Dubai art nights: a variety of new exhibitions and live performances

Between Alserkal Avenue and the DIFC, there is plenty of art to see in Dubai this week

A psycho-geographic invocation of Beirut nights, a film screening and a tentacular installation. These are some of the artworks on offer in Dubai this week.

Alserkal Avenue’s Galleries Night is back on Monday, with 18 exhibitions and an ongoing series of public art commissions. Meanwhile, the Dubai International Financial Centre’s Art Nights returns on the same day, over two evenings allowing visitors to allot a night to each.

Alserkal Avenue's Galleries Day

Kick your evening off at Alserkal Avenue with Qalaq, a four-piece sound installation from musician and artist Pascal Semerdjian, also known as the drummer of Lebanese dream pop band Postcards. The pieces are installed around the area to create a kind of sound trail for visitors to follow.

Each piece combines music and field recordings to transport the listener to the places Semerdjian spends his nights in Lebanon: the bar where he works, by the seaside, at home in the mountains, and at home by the port where a blast ripped through grain silos of Beirut. Each piece takes on the anxious timbres and quiet dread of post-August 4 Lebanon.

At Carbon 12, Bernhard Buhmann’s The Signal and the Noise takes its title from a Nate Silver tome. The exhibition extends the Austrian artist’s exploration of the individual and forces of confirmation bias in a digital age. Elements such as vector graphics, flat design, online avatars and the kind of gradients that wouldn’t look out of place on a packet of Chips Oman merge with his characteristic visual language in a suite of colourful, semi-abstract paintings which suggest a kind of Cubist infographics.

Fans of abstraction will also enjoy Palestinian artist Samia Halaby at Ayyam Gallery, whose paintings invoke both Sufi mystic Al-Ghazali and the movement of things in the air: snowflakes, static, scattered shapes.

Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project and magic lanterns that cast larger-than-life projections inform Phantasmagoria: Spectres of Disenchantment at 1x1 Art Gallery. In it, the artists use light to hold up a mirror to global society and its evils, from war and climate change to sectarian violence and gender and caste inequalities. This group show includes Chittrovanu Mazumdar, Mithu Sen, Pushpamala N, Sumakshi Singh, Susanta Mandal, Shambhavi Singh and Anita Dube.

Sculptures become set pieces in Ana Mazzei’s second solo at Green Art Gallery. It draws upon Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, Russian Suprematism and Italian Futurism, and the 20th-century avant garde’s preoccupation with disassembling a form down into its constituent elements. The result is a moody affair that subtly invokes a theatre via a stage and a sheer black curtain.

If Modernism is more your speed, don’t miss Galerie El Marsa’s group show of pioneering Algerian painters, including work by Rachid Koraichi, Baya Mahieddine and Abdallah Benanteur. The show traces how these artists were influenced by the drumbeat of decolonisation struggles and intellectual currents elsewhere in the Arab world but worked to forge a uniquely Algerian visual language. Works draw from Amazigh and Arab-Islamic heritages but emphasise a pluralism of identity above all.

At Leila Heller, meanwhile, visitors can enjoy a rare view into collector Mana Jalalian’s Iranian Modernist works, with a few contemporary stars sprinkled in, including Parviz Tanavoli, Bahman Mohasses, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, and Shirin Neshat.

Keep a look out for the newest commission from Kameelah Janan Rasheed throughout Alserkal Avenue. Her text-based works are the second instalment from the public art series Homecoming curated by Janine Gaelle Dieudj, which also includes Lakwena Maciver's colourful banners hung at each entrance to the Avenue.

Also on view are a number of exhibitions that opened earlier in the season, including Manal Al Dowayan’s works about how Saudi women are (re)negotiating the public sphere, at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, and Volte Art Projects’ inaugural group show, featuring meditations on art, time, and technology by artists such as Ranbir Kaleka and William Kentridge.

Make time for Ishara Art Foundation's Growing Like A Tree: Static in the Air, the second show curated by photographer Sohrab Hura. It builds upon the first, to present an exhibition as an open, ever-changing text.

DIFC Art Nights

At the DIFC's Art Nights, gallery exhibitions include Mohamed Abla’s vivid, acidulated botanicals at Tabari Artspace, and a multigenerational pairing of Emirati artists Afra Al Dhaheri and Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim – who will represent the UAE in Venice next year – at ICD Brookfield.

The biannual event also includes a number of performances and artworks installed outside around the avenues of Gate Village. They respond to this year’s theme of Regeneration, through work about circular economies, the environment, mixed reality and NFTs. And if Dubai Design Week left you craving more design, look no further than Alaa Shibly’s biomimetic lamps inspired by the movement of bat wings and Martina Negri’s furniture made out of recycled plastic, both of which are 3D-printed. Animals also inform a collaboration between painter Justine Formentelli and designer Natalya Konforti, in which the affective estrangement of expat life is translated into an immense installation of tentacle scrolls.

Last day of Alserkal Art Week

On November 20, return to Alserkal for a performance by Moza Almatrooshi. The Alphabetics of the Barista Part II considers consumption, disposability and labour in relation to food. What's been described as a "culinary performance" will be held at 4pm at new cafe Le Guepard.

Another performance, Wilted Time, takes place in the humid, indolic air of floral studio Ame Artistic Studio, from 4pm. It begins with a screening of an animated short, The Derangement (2021), and promises to make you rethink concepts such as the language of flowers, decay and the passage of time.

In the evening, a two-hour set from DJ Kadhem kicks off from 7pm. It moves from his unreleased cassette compilation of early noise rock featuring decomposed instruments followed by an hour of post-punk and its gloomier cousin, dark wave.

More information is available at alserkal.online and DIFC Art Nights

Updated: November 15th 2021, 3:12 PM