Isolation tanks and sonic rooms: Alserkal presents ‘mind-altering’ summer schedule

The programme takes place in three acts, starting August 7, with specific activities and events scheduled on each day

Arts organisation Alserkal has put together a summer programme, called Some Time Away, which explores sensory experiences and confinement through artist interventions, workshops and screenings.

Split into three acts, the programme will take place this Saturday and on August 14 and 21, with specific activities and events scheduled on each day.

Act I: Reclusion

The first act – Reclusion – includes a "dark retreat", where participants sit in a room without light for an extended period of time in the hopes of achieving a meditative state. It is led by Julius Masarovic, a former physicist turned Universal Healing Tao instructor.

For the workshop titled Creative Isolation, selected participants will spend an hour in a flotation pod, also known as a sensory deprivation chamber, where individuals cannot see or hear anything while afloat inside a tank.

Afterwards, artists Mona Ayyash and Mohamed Khalid, designer Moylin Yuan and writer Kevin Jones will guide the group in discussion and ask them to reflect on the experience. The workshop is limited to seven people, who will be selected by Alserkal.

Act I also features the first of artist Noush Anand’s deep listening sessions, called the Deep Listening Room, where she will conduct sonic performances that guide listeners through a “somatic experience” following each act’s theme. The sessions continue in Acts II and III. Each session takes 15 minutes and must be booked in advance.

Another artist series is the Conversation Chamber, a free-flowing discussion led by writer and critic Aveek Sen. The meetings will cover topics such as art, music, cinema and performance through a “jargon-free mix of listening, viewing, discussion and reflection”, as Alserkal describes it. Each act in the Some Time Away programme includes one Conversation Chamber that is limited to 20 people.

Acts II and III: Illusion and Revival

For Act II (Illusion), artist Nahla Al Tabbaa will explore the idea of the exhaustive practice, where repetitive work leads to a state of meditation. She will lead participants through a four-hour workshop where they are expected to produce work – drawing, carving or writing – in complete silence.

The final act, Revival, includes a performance presentation by artists Amina Ahmed, Rohini Devasher, writer Saira Ansari and evolutionary biologist Nirmal Rajah titled Gardens, the Sky and Solitary Walks. It comprises “videos, sonic on-site walks, poetry-infused presentations” that take place over two hours at Alserkal Avenue.

Some Time Away will also present film screenings for titles such as Luis Bunuel’s surrealist film The Exterminating Angel, the cult documentary Grey Gardens, which follows the lives of mother and daughter recluses, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris from 1972, plus the 1971 Egyptian film Zawgaty wal kalb about marriage, solitude and madness.

More information is available at

Updated: August 4th 2021, 3:15 PM
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