New year, new shows. The first month of 2021 will see exciting new exhibitions sprout up across the UAE, including two that take the digital world as their starting point – Age of You at Jameel Arts Centre asks how our identities are changing as online tech inundates our lives, while NYUAD Art Gallery’s first virtual exhibition presents works tailored specifically for the smartphone.
A group show curated by photographer and Magnum member Sohrab Hura gathers works from 14 countries across South and South-East Asia, while two solo shows at Grey Noise and Tashkeel explore ideas of space and place. The former, titled Nebokeru, offers visuals that evoke the subconscious, while the latter considers the multifaceted meaning of place.
Here are five new art shows opening this month.
Growing Like a Tree
Photographer and filmmaker Sohrab Hura presents his first curated exhibition titled Growing Like a Tree at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation. While the show focuses on photographic work, it also includes video, books and sound installations from 14 artists across South Asia and South-East Asia.
The works of these individuals are drawn together to develop a dialogue around themes of urbanism, collective memory, the environment and the archive. In his artist statement, Hura stated that he has witnessed the interconnectedness of ideas in photography over the years.
"An osmosis-like relationship with photographers across borders has started to seep through with each one searching for new ways to grow as artists and having at stake something in common that is far more urgent than photography,” he says.
Growing Like a Tree is on view at the foundation’s space, and will also have a virtual iteration.
Opens Wednesday, January 20; Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai; ishara.org
Trained as an archaeologist, Stelios Kallinikou examines the narratives of enigmatic spaces through photography. In his first solo exhibition at Grey Noise, the Limassol-born artist presents works that explore the link between the image and consciousness.
The exhibition borrows its name from the Japanese verb “nebokeru”, which refers to the actions or condition of someone who is half-asleep. Using the photographic effect of bokeh, which provides an out-of-focus and blurry quality to the image, Kallinikou creates meditative visuals that appear as though they have been drawn from dreams.
Opens Wednesday, January 20; Grey Noise, Dubai; greynoise.org
Age of You
What does it mean to be “you”? In the digital world, our identities are comprised of our online behaviours, every click, follow and like. In a major show curated by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist, with graphic design by Daly & Lyon, Jameel Arts Centre presents Age of You, an exhibition that considers what it means to be an individual in the present day.
The show includes more than 70 artists from the worlds of art, design, film, photography, performance and music. Described as a “multi-artist exploration of the extreme self”, Age of You looks at how our online identities affect our offline lives and how the pandemic is accelerating our relationships with tech in the 21st century.
The exhibition will preview a book by Basar, Coupland and Obrist titled The Extreme Self, which picks up where their previous work The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present leaves off.
Opens Friday, January 29; Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; jameelartscentre.org
A Terranean Love Note
For her first solo exhibition, artist Mays Albaik looks at language, body and geography in A Terranean Love Note at Tashkeel.
Her works follow a year of research as part of last year’s Tashkeel’s Critical Practice Programme, where she developed spatial interventions, sculptures and videos that address the idea of “placehood”, which could refer to sites of residence, homelands or digital spaces.
“There is a multiplicity of placehood in our lives; of the place where we are now, of the place where our loved ones are, and of the place where we grew up. We also exercise this multiplicity by always being connected to the digital sphere. No longer a portal, our screens have become places themselves,” Albaik explained in a statement.
During her time at the programme, Albaik was mentioned by artists Ala Younes and Lawrence Abu Hamdan.
Opens Tuesday, January 12; Tashkeel, Dubai; tashkeel.org
not in, of, along, or relating to a line
Marking the NYUAD Art Gallery’s first virtual exhibition, not in, of, along, or relating to a line has been developed specifically for the smartphone screen. Described by show curators Maya Allison and Heather Dewey-Hagborg as “born digital”, the works have been created by artists who primarily investigate technology in their practice, namely Cao Fei, Sophia Al Maria, Zach Blas, Addie Wagenknecht, Eva and Franco Mattes, Lee Blalock, Maryam Al Hamra, Micha Cardenas, and the trio of Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian.
The viewing experience will be different for everyone, as each visitor can navigate through the works according to their preference. This “decentralised path” mimics the way the internet intended itself to be and the way we surf the web.
Opens Wednesday, January 20; NYUAD Art Gallery website; nyuad-artgallery.org