Alserkal announces globe-spanning partnership to fight climate change through art

Three artists from around the world will create public installations centred on sustainability

Alserkal Avenue in Dubai will present a work by Saudi visual artist Muhannad Shono. Photo: Alserkal Advisory
Powered by automated translation

Three artists will present new public art installations as part of the new Global Co-Commission Project, created by Alserkal Advisory and the Global Cultural Districts Network.

Alserkal Avenue in Dubai will showcase Saudi visual artist Muhannad Shono, while Kingston Creative in Jamaica will present the work of visual artist Camille Chedda, and Victoria Yards in Johannesburg, South Africa, will host interdisciplinary artist Io Makandal.

The project, called A Feral Commons, is curated by Tairone Bastien under the theme of climate change.

Each artist will develop a site-specific public art installation in response to the climate crisis, while exploring the relationships between people and the environment.

The project is a collaboration with the Global Cultural Districts Network, an independent association which aims to improve the quality of urban life through the arts, and draw attention to pressing issues.

Vilma Jurkute, executive director of Alserkal Initiatives said the Global Co-Commission project reflects cultural districts' power to act concertedly in times of global crisis. “Working with artists across three continents, the Global Co-Commission intends to inspire new narratives of possibility, ultimately creating public art that is both responsible and impactful,” she said.

She added that the Feral Commons project “reappraises the conditions of artistic production and re-evaluates public art in non-western contexts”.

“While each of the works is entirely contextualised, they jointly articulate our collective mission which, grounded in ecological thinking, has given us a mutual sense of 'nearness' between Johannesburg, Kingston, and Dubai,” she said.

“These artists are reimagining the terms of public art in the face of climate change by making site-specific works that are not only aesthetically compelling, but that are also functional and generative,” curator Bastien said.

“Through research, dialogue and working closely with stakeholders in their respective cultural district, each artist's work seeks to feed back into a feral ecology, bringing awareness to local environmental issues and facilitating greater interspecies respect and collaboration,” Bastien added.

Shono is studying unexpected ecologies that are thriving unnoticed in the urban environment of Al Quoz. Interested in the wild and unplanned environments within an urban landscape, the Saudi artist's work is often structured around strong narratives which include personal, historical and social elements. For his installation, he will be looking at the connections between art and nature.

Chedda is an artist who explores post-colonial identity in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the African diaspora. She will be working with a local park which, for socio-political reasons, has become neglected and overgrown with wild plants. Chedda plans to give the space new life and encourage future generations to maintain the park, and view it an extension of themselves.

Makandal’s artistic practice in Johannesburg is concerned with ecologies in the urban environment and society's obsession with development. She will be creating an installation to comment on the overlooked and contaminated Jukskei river which runs through Victoria Yards. The installation will focus on the point where the river is first affected by sewerage and pollution, in the hope of helping to repair and maintain the water source.

The three installations are expected to be unveiled later this year.

Updated: May 24, 2023, 8:02 AM