The best part about Dubai’s burgeoning art scene is that it isn’t limited to accomplished artists. The city’s artistic hub Alserkal Avenue is filled with galleries, has a jam-packed schedule of amazing exhibits to see, and often hosts events to put emerging artists on the map. This weekend, be sure to head to Satellite in Alserkal catch a fun exhibition titled ‘After the Beep’ co-organized and curated by Dubai-based curators Anna Bernice and Sarah Daher. Open from 12-6pm, it is running till July 31 and till date it is one of the largest group shows to happen in Dubai in recent years.
38 UAE-based artists were asked to participate via Instagram in a reactive creative exercise where they were to respond to the work of another artist with new work of their own in the spirit of the common childhood game “Broken Telephone”. The creative exercise occurred with two chains of reactivity that were set off by the initial work of Emirati artist, Rami Farook. Two artists had to first respond to his work, which then set off two independent response chains. All artists only saw the one work that was produced directly before them in the chain and were given 48 hours from seeing the work to submit their pieces.
Savoir Flair speaks to the curators about the idea behind this project and how such activities benefit emerging artists in the city.
What was the idea behind this initiative?
Anna: The idea was to encourage artists of all experiences and backgrounds to generate extemporaneous artworks following their creative impulses, as inspired by the visuals, themes, or ideas of a previous work. We were also intrigued in creating a mysterious, secretive game of creativity where the artists don’t know anything or anyone but the artwork they are presented with. Sarah and I were interested in seeing what artists can come up with in 48 hours, highly emphasizing that the work need not be ‘perfect’ or ‘polished’ upon submission.
Sarah: We wanted artists to enter into a conversation with one another using the mediums that they express themselves best with their art, and not to overthink what they were making. Restricting the time to 48 hours meant that the work was built entirely on the impulsive reaction the artists had to the work with that came before them in the chain. It also built a natural sense of community between 38 individual practitioners who were working responsively.
How did you come up with the idea of using the “Broken Telephone” as inspiration?
Anna: Sarah and I were interested in creating a community-engaging creative exercise and she was really inspired by the childhood game in which the starting phrase and the ending phrase at the end of the ‘telephone line’ often were radically different. In translation to art making, we were intrigued about how themes, visuals, and ideas would be translated from artist to artist and how all their works would come together in an art show.
Sarah: It was a strategy to encourage artists to engage their sense of play and experimentation. The art produced over the span of three months was not intended to be high stakes work but rather a chance to have fun with their work, trust themselves, and try something new. We were also very curious about how the message of the original work would translate across the chain and how elements would be interpreted and re-interpreted.
How will this initiative help emerging artists in the UAE?
Anna: I think the creative community in the UAE, as we continue to grow, needs more creative prompts like ours to generate work that feeds into their practice. Ultimately I feel this exercise gave a sense of community to the artists who participated, and gave a platform for them to have their work exhibited and enjoyed by an audience.
Sarah: The emerging art community in the UAE lacks sufficient outlets for their creativity. This exercise and the exhibition produced at the end was a very valuable way to build a large community of artists and to platform their work who often don’t get the chance to exhibit. I hope that we find a way to continue to host exercises like this to encourage artists in their creative practice and to establish the much-needed precedent of exhibiting and engaging with a wide variety of work by artists of all ages and backgrounds.