Alserkal Advisory Dubai names artists for tricontinental initiative - GulfToday

Alserkal Advisory Dubai names artists for tricontinental initiative

Alserkal 1

Artwork at Victoria Yards.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Global Co-Commission Project spearheaded by Alserkal Advisory, Dubai, in collaboration with the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) has announced the artists selected for its inaugural cycle, A Feral Commons.

The project by Alserkal Advisory unites cultural districts in Dubai, Johannesburg and Kingston, and aims to use the collective power of peer art organisations globally to respond to urgent global issues of our time.

Among other energies, it invites participants to renew their current perspectives and learnings and explore how artists can rise to new challenges, create new models of the commons and ultimately, new ways of living.


Elizabeth Gilbert delays release of novel set in Russia citing objections from Ukrainian readers

Hair Everwood actor Treat Williams killed in Vermont motorcycle crash

K-drama star Park Soo Ryun dies at 29 after falling from stairs

Each activity will stand alone as a site-specific exhibition and be accompanied by a programme that engages with local communities. A Feral Commons is the central theme for three commissions developed by Tairone Bastien, curator of the cycle, a first of its kind.Through site-specific public artworks, the project invites artists to examine the co-dependency and open-ended collaborations between human and “more-than-human” beings. Collaborating with Bastien, Alserkal Avenue in Dubai will present a work by Muhannad Shono (b.1977, Riyadh, KSA), while Kingston Creative (Kingston, Jamaica) will show Camille Chedda (b.1985, Manchester, Jamaica) and Victoria Yards (Johannesburg, South Africa) presents Io Makandal (b.1987, Johannesburg, South Africa).

Each artist will develop a site-specific public art installation in response to the central theme of climate change, uniting cultural districts from the GCDN across three continents. Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director of Alserkal Initiatives, including Alserkal Advisory, says: “The Global Co-Commission project by Alserkal Advisory, in collaboration with GCDN, reflects cultural districts’ power to act concertedly in times of global crises. Working with artists across three continents, the Global Co-Commission intends to inspire new narratives of possibility, ultimately creating public art that is both responsible and impactful.”

Bastien says that “these artists are re-imagining the terms of public art in the face of climate change by making site-specific works that are not only aesthetically compelling, but that are also functional and generative.” He established the arts programme at Alserkal Avenue and Alserkal Residency in Dubai, for artists, curators, and researchers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

Alserkal 2  Camille Chedda in Kingston.

At Alserkal Avenue, Shono is studying ecologies that thrive unnoticed in the urban environment of Al Quoz, an industrial centre of Dubai and home to Alserkal Avenue. His multidisciplinary practice harnesses the power of narrative by creating - and contesting - personal, collective and historical truths.“If our species is to move into another level of existence where we don’t think of ourselves as individuals, we don’t think of ourselves as cities and nations and continents, but rather this interconnected ecosystem where I can lend a hand and receive in return,” he says.

Alserkal Avenue is a cultural district in the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai, and is home to a community of over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organisations, designers, home-grown and entrepreneur-led businesses and community spaces. Chedda works with themes of post-colonial identity in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and the African diaspora. For Kingston Creative, she is working with the Lower South Camp Park in Kingston, a public area which has become neglected and overgrown with wild plants, especially the ubiquitous Mexican Creeper, more popularly known in Jamaica as the Rice and Peas Bush, an edible and medicinal plant and a magnet for bees and pollinating insects.

Chedda proposes activating the space of the park and using the Rice and Peas Bush (among others) as a reference and symbol of those who must be remembered, and their stories.“It’s exciting to be working on a collaborative global art project which centres community and ideas (of) a shared commons,” she says. “The opportunities hold such promise in changing perceptions and … how we can impact our environments.”

alserkal 3 Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director, Alserkal Initiatives.

Kingston Creative is an arts district and hub and a non-profit for creative entrepreneurs that aims to revitalise Downtown Kingston’s cultural identity through multiple monthly programmes and a major mural project. Makandal’s artistic practice is concerned with the urban environment, in relation to human activity and the obsession with development. She aims to shift people’s awareness and relationship to the “more-than-human” world, in a time of climatic shift.

At Victoria Yards, Makandal’s Muse is the Jukskei river. One of the only major streams and river catchments in Johannesburg, it is severely abused, with contamination of its waters and soils from the source. Makandal’s installation will be positioned at the point where the river meets broad daylight and where the first impact of human mismanagement, sewage and pollution come into effect.

She hopes to build civic relationships with the river to help repair and maintain a vital water source. “I’m interested in how urban ecology is informed by a human relationship and a human is formed by nature,” she says. Victoria Yards is an integrated urban complex that is both about community and social development and is a commercial enterprise. GCDN is an international federation committed to improving the quality of urban life through the arts, culture and creative industries. It was founded by Adrian Ellis in 2013.

A Feral Commons is supported by UAP (Urban Arts Projects) and will self-audit the environmental impact of the initiative as it attempts for the first time to create public artworks across three continents. UAP works across all aspects of the creative process, from commissioning and curatorial services, concept development, and design assistance to engineering, fabrication, and installation.

Related articles