Art Radar introduces 3 emerging artists from the UAE: a sculptor, a performer and a video maker.

Art Radar offers an introduction to emerging UAE artists Shaikha Al-Mazrou, Alaa Edris and Jumairy, whose work debuted at Abu Dhabi Art Fair 2017.

Alaa Edris, 'Kharareef – Fables from the Trucial States', 2011, Video. Image courtesy the artist.

Alaa Edris, ‘Kharareef – Fables from the Trucial States’, 2011, video. Image courtesy the artist.

One of the highlights of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair this year was a section titled “Beyond: Emerging Artists”, which presented new commissioned works by three up-and-coming Emirati artists. Shaikha Al-Mazrou, Alaa Edris and Jumairy were selected by guest curators and established artists in their own right Mohammed Kazem and Cristiana de Marchi, who have been working hard over the last five years to support UAE artists across regional and international platforms.

Art Radar takes a look at the three emerging artists’ work.

Alaa Edris, 'Study for The Great Puzzle', 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Alaa Edris, ‘Study for The Great Puzzle’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

1. Alaa Edris

The repetoire of Alaa Edris focues on video, sound and multimedia installation. Less a mediation on identity, Edris’ videos explore the material construction of gender and national identity in relation to language and visual culture specific to particular historical moments and places. In a 2011 video entitled Kharareef – Fables from the Trucial States, Edris composed an assembly of historical and visual associations using footage culled from several British documentaries that tell the story of the United Arab Emirates before their confederation. At the fair Edris presented the video The Great Puzzle (2017), in which she repeatedly performs a line from Alice in Wonderland after having taken vocal lessons to practice different ways of saying the sentence. In an interesting proposal by curator de Marchi, the work was displayed in the toilet stalls, where it was activated when the doors close.

Jumairy, performance at Abu Dhabi Art Fair 2017. Photo credit: Christopher Pike. Image from the national.

Jumairy, performance at Abu Dhabi Art Fair 2017. Photo credit: Christopher Pike. Image from the national.

2. Jumairy

Jumairy is the alter-ego “pop-star” character of an Emirati artist from Dubai. The artist told The National that the character, who makes music inspired by the work of Marilyn Manson, the Spice Girls and Arabic electro-pop, originates in his traumatic memories of the death of his childhood pet rabbit. The artist has been performing “Jumairy” for the past five years and has recently extended to a set of accompanying characters who were present at his Abu Dhabi Fair performance, where Jumairy was promoting his album Haemophobia. Passers by could also invest in a line of merchandise that includes caps, jam, potions, fidget spinners, caps, and the blood-red sweatshirts that the Jumairy performers wore. Jumairy, which collapses the boundaries between performance, pop group, avante garde action and brand, is the result of the artist’s interest in voice, memory, psychology and environment. With a careful engagement with sound, screens, performance and apps, this Emirati artist is the new media pioneer to watch.

Shaikha Al Mazrou, 'Ironic Experiments I', 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.Shaikha Al Mazrou, 'Ironic Experiments I', 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

Shaikha Al Mazrou, ‘Ironic Experiments I’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

3. Shaikha Al-Mazrou

If sculptor Shaikha Al Mazrou’s practice is more traditional than peers in its dialogue with conceptual art and Bauhaus architecture, her mix of strategies and materials is just as irreverent. In her large scale sculpture and installation works she blends a minimalist aesthetic with gestures towards the Gulf construction boom of the 2000s, combining electronic waste, scaffolding and plastic to create vibrant geometric assemblages. At Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Shaikha Al Mazrou is represented by Dubai gallery Lawrie Shabibi where she presented a new body of work entitled “Ironic Experiments”. Made of black stoneware, the sculptures are displayed beside a set of drawings that explore what has been a long standing central theme for the artist: imbalance, dissonance and awkwardness. In an investigation of what uncertainty and expectation might mean from the perspective of the materials she engages with, the “Ironic Experiments” series oscillate between contrasts – positive and negative space, geometric and organic, form and volume, surface and void.

Rebecca Close


Related Topics: Emirati curators (UAE), Foundations, Political, news

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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