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We cannot be completely uprooted, we all have a cultural basis.
Mario Rizzi, Out of Place (2005)

This exhibition of work from the Sharjah Art Foundation presents an intriguing discussion on identity and social changes through a series of video installations, which was set in an unique cultural background. Bi-cultural? No. This is the intersection of three distinctive cultures and civilisations, Arabic, Chinese and European (Western).

A number of contemporary Chinese artists have responded to the personal and social cost of rapid economic development and urban changes in China. Liu Wei’s Hopeless Land (2008), was filmed at the outskirts of Beijing, a place which was used to be the home for suburb farmers and unavoidably, suffered from the relentless urban sprawl in the recent years. It will soon become another soulless wasteland filled shining new residential buildings.

As a Chinese living in Europe, perhaps I have been Anglicised to think that it is all too rushed to disregard your cultural identity by destroying the original landscape. For me, the most interesting thing is to observe how the Emiratis responses to the pressing issue from a different perspective. There are only 25% of the populations in the UAE are Emiratis, and the rest are from all corners of the world.

Nikolaj Larsen’s work Rendezvous (2009) is a captivating interpretation of their lives. He spent a month traveling and filmed the workers throughout the UAE and their families back home. The result was two images which were projected on each end of the room, three times as high as your height , forcing you to think of the two cultural contexts in a dramatic contrast. Is one superior than the other? Not necessarily…

Fascinating stuff – In Spite of It All is a must see exhibition if you want to get under the skin of the modern multi-cultural Arab people.

In Spite of it All
03.11.12 – 03.01.13
Collections Building, Arts Area
Heart of Sharjah

 

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