Al Ali Neelova Structures
Fatma Al Ali and Nika Neelova: Ephemeral Structures
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NIKA Project Space in Dubai is staging Ephemeral Structures, a duo show by Fatma Al Ali (UAE) and Nika Neelova (UK). In their practice, these multidisciplinary artists delve into the interplay between art, materials, and the spatial environment. The exhibition will be open to the public until the 4th of November, 2023.

Fatma Al Ali and Nika Neelova, Ephemeral Structures (exhibition view). NIKA Project Space, Dubai, 2023.

In her creations, Neelova presents alternative interpretations of human history and invites one to engage with the stories within inanimate things. The show displays several works from Lemniscate, her most famous series of sculptures. They are created by using old wooden handrails the artist found in London mansions planned to be demolished or restored. Artworks from her Lateral Cuts series are also on view. Made of concrete, ceramics, and acrylic, they replicate cross-sectional cuts of architectural structures and resemble translated 3D architectural blueprints at the same time. 

Nika Neelova, Lateral Cuts X, 2021. Concrete, jesmonite, hand-cast ceramics, acrylic, metal.
27 x 20 x 26 cm.

Fatma Al Ali explores the concept of home. Her latest works contain the essence of belonging, memory, and the emotional resonance of space. Capturing the intersection of fragility and strength, she turns foldable paper houses into resilient structures made of plastic. The artist carefully reshapes familiar forms while experimenting with materials and boundaries. She also incorporates hand-drawn houses from childhood images into the map of Sharjah painstakingly crafted by her. Al Ali’s simplified house models look like cross-sectional slices of houses, thus resembling Neelova’s art pieces from her Lateral Cuts series.

Fatma Al Ali, Soft murmurs of a private corner, 2023. Print on fine art paper. Unique.
80 x 95 cm.

About the artists

Nika Neelova (b. 1987) resides in London (UK). In 2008, she graduated from the Royal Art Academy in The Hague (Netherlands) with a BA degree. In 2011, the artist obtained an MA degree in Sculpture from the Slade School of Art (London).

Neelova is interested in how materials and architecture influence our sense of time and place. Her work is rooted in the concept of reverse archaeology. Using different architectural materials and found objects, she retrieves and reveals information that is “already there” (in a material/thing) and histories within it. This way, the artist unearths “evidence of human pasts through inanimate things”. Her art pieces are often based on transforming objects in various ways, such as, for example, decoding and recoding their purposes and liberating them from their meaning.

Fatma Al Ali and Nika Neelova, Ephemeral Structures (installation view). NIKA Project Space, Dubai, 2023.

Fatma Al Ali (b. 1994, Duba, UAE), who lives and works in Sharjah (UAE), received a BFA from the University of Sharjah. She is also a graduate of The Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship (cohort 2019–2020).

The list of themes which Al Ali explores in her art includes materiality, weight, tension, social restrictions, and the unseen burden on individuals. She pays close attention to the form and texture of her artworks and often challenges conventional notions of what materials can be used for. When looking into another material and examining its functionality, the artist makes connections to the material and emotions it provokes. Al Ali’s work is full of juxtapositions. She often combines and explores opposites in her work: soft and rigid, time and memory, the inside and the outside, and others.

To learn more about Ephemeral Structures, please visit the exhibition’s official web page

You might also be interested in visiting the Jameel Library to have a look at the Another Empty House project.

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