Sharing art space in Dubai

James Clar is opening up his Satellite studio at Al Quoz to fellow artists.
The artist James Clar, who is opening his Dubai studio space for installations or performance art, says all ideas are welcome.
The artist James Clar, who is opening his Dubai studio space for installations or performance art, says all ideas are welcome.

Art lovers will have to make sure they get the date right when a new art initiative starts next month - for each of the installations and performances to be featured will be on show for one night only.

James Clar, an American who has lived in Dubai for five years, plans to hand his Satellite studio at Al Quoz over to a fellow artist for a single night in a move designed to promote installation art.

The guest artist will be invited to build a site-specific installation or stage a performance, and at the end of the evening all traces of the work will be cleared away. Subsequent one-night events will be held roughly every month under the title Satellite Broadcast, each featuring a "now you see it, now you don't" work by a different artist.

Clar is currently calling for proposals from artists - and ideas from members of the public are also welcome.

"Anyone can submit an idea," he says. "I've already had some non-artist professionals submit ideas that were really great. I want smart and weird things - things that open people's minds to new forms of communication and experience."

He says the response to the call to artists has been good.

"I think it will pick up even more when people actually see the broadcasts and see the possibilities," he adds. "Broadcast allows artists to create something experiential, where the audience must be physically there to view the content. Satellite is my art studio - it's a great open warehouse space with a lot of possibilities.

"The Broadcast series is conceived as a way to present a side of art often not seen in Dubai: installations and performance art. We need to keep things fresh here in order for the art and creative scene to develop, so we need to give people a chance to share their ideas."

He says artists could recycle old works for the series, but felt that most would want to present something new.

"This being said, artworks are selected based on content, whether or not it's been shown someplace else before," he adds. "All rights to the artwork are retained by the artist. They can show it anywhere they want to in the future."

Because of the temporary nature of the exhibits, Clar is encouraging artists to use paper and styrofoam rather than more expensive and durable materials. The date of the first event has yet to be confirmed but is expected to be around September 19. Once each evening is over, the only proof that an installation was ever there will be in the studio's records.

"We keep documentation that this artwork existed at only one point in Satellite. This acts as an archive of all the broadcasts."

Clar, 31, describes himself as a "media artist whose work is a fusion of technology, popular culture, and visual information". Many of his works use neon tubes or other sources of light.

He has exhibited at Dubai's Traffic gallery and in other cities, including Hong Kong, Berlin, Lyon, Brussels and Memphis. He opened Satellite, which is in the Al Serkal Avenue art district, in March.

The Broadcast initiative has been welcomed by Antonia Carver, the director of the annual Art Dubai fair, who says: "It's taking what's happening in Dubai to another level because the one thing that has been missing is more activity by artists, artists making work here, and he's really facilitating that.

"It's very generous for an artist to take a studio space and then open it up to other artists. Not many are as supportive of their colleagues as he is by making it possible for people to do things."

Carver backs Clar's efforts to encourage installation art, adding: "Until now the city has been quite market-driven, and that tends to mean works that look good in a domestic setting rather than in an institution.

"Unless you have a very forward-thinking collector or a collector with a large home, it tends to be more two-dimensional work than installations, so it's fantastic if he's encouraging people to think in a different way."

Published: August 16, 2011 04:00 AM


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