Remember the childhood game “telephone”? A chain of players take turns whispering messages to each other, until the person at the end of the line says the phrase out loud. Often, the original message has been altered somewhere along the string of exchanges, revealing the unreliability of memory or communication.
The game is the starting point for an experimental artistic prompt conceived by Dubai curators Sarah Daher and Anna Bernice. The result – more than 40 artworks from 38 artists made within 48 hours.
The works will be on view at the exhibition After The Beep, opening on Sunday at art space Satellite in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.
In May, the curators released an open call for artists in the UAE via Instagram asking them to respond with new work by another artist. It started with one piece by Rami Farook, an Emirati artist and founder of Satellite, after which two others produced their "reactions" within 48 hours, eventually leading to two chains of creation.
During this period, the artists were only able to see the work that was made directly before theirs. The entire chain of artistic output will be revealed to them and visitors on the day of the exhibition opening.
The curators said that the initiative intends to “experiment with artistic production that immediately follows a creative response and impulse under time pressure, to challenge the notion of a perfectly produced artwork.”
The question now is whether conceptual links between artists can be formed on spur-of-the-moment, surface contact, and whether the element of anonymity, with creators unknown to each other, as well as time, can enrich or devalue the final work.
Both graduates of New York University Abu Dhabi, Daher focuses her research on social practices in Lebanon, where she is from, and the region, while Bernice runs an artistic platform for Filipino artists in the Gulf.
The list of participating artists is decidedly young, with a number having been part of programmes within UAE institutions such as the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship, Art Jameel Youth Assembly and Cultural Foundation Art Residency.
Artists include Sara Ahli, Aya Afaneh, Asma Khoory, Arthur de Oliveira, Anita Shishani, Sofia Basto, Yasmin Hamad, Viktor Ikeda, Mohamed Khalid, Lubnah Ansari, Lena Kassicieh, Shebi Niazi, Trixie Danielle and Solimar Miller.