NIKA Project Space in Dubai is holding Coded Gestures, a group show which features the following conceptual artists: Fatma Al Ali, Mona Ayyash, Khalid Jauffer, Alexander Ugay, and Minja Gu. It will be on view until 16 July 2023.
Curated by Nadine Khalil, an arts writer, editor, researcher, and curator, the exhibition showcases the works of the artists from non-Western regions, which reveal the correlation between post-Soviet and hyper-capitalist societies. Through a unique artistic lens, the participating artists explore the theme of repetitive gestures and the notion of labour by examining its various manifestations of alienation.
The exhibition opened with a tea ceremony, the performance by Minja Gu titled House Tea de la Maison de la Casa (2023); the visitors were invited to participate and taste hundreds of tea infusions. Another Gu’s work in which she observes and questions daily behaviours, the performance emphasised the significance of the participatory exchange.
In Alexander Ugay’s video More than a Hundred Thousand Times (2019-20), Korean migrants in post-Soviet countries are reenacting the repetitive labour movements outside the factory. Through the repetition of monotonous movements, they become alienated from their consciousness and enter a meditative state. In the exhibition, Ugay’s artwork Unknown Return (2023) is also on view: it is a series of images generated by AI which depict key historical events affecting the Korean diaspora.
Fatma Al Ali’s art piece titled My mother told me not to collect bricks (2020) comprises stacked bricks made of different materials. It examines the relationship between collective systems and individuals.
The exhibited artworks paying particular attention to the repetition are Trampoline (2015) by Mona Ayyash, 42.195 (2006) by Minja Gu, and my job is to look at the sunset (2023) by Khalid. Trampoline is a pixelated loop recording of athletes preparing for their jumps, while 42.195 is 11-hour long video documenting Gu’s two-day marathon. Khalid’s work was created exclusively for the show; it is a documentation of daily sunsets printed in real-time and displayed throughout the duration of the show.
About the artists
Fatma Al Ali (b. 1994, UAE) is a multidisciplinary Emirati artist; in her art, she delves into the themes of perception and form of materiality, weight, strength and delicacy, juxtapositions, and tension. Using different materials, the artist examines their functionality and makes connections to them and the emotions they evoke.
Mona Ayyash is a Palestinian visual artist who grew up in Dubai, where she still lives and works. Her art practice is focused on repetition, memory, slowness, and boredom.
Khalid Jauffer (b. 1996, Dubai) is an artist based in UAE; he explores the materiality of everyday objects and coaxes out their metaphoric potential. Khalid utilises his own methodical formula to reveal the spatial relationships between his subjects and their correlation to human beings.
Alexander Ugay (b. 1978, Kyzlorda, Kazakhstan) is a Kazakh photographer and video artist residing in Almaty, Kazakhstan, who comes from a Korean family deported to Central Asia in the 1930s. The themes he explores In his artworks are memory and nostalgia; he is also interested in the interaction of history with today’s reality and the future.
Minja Gu (b. 1977, South Korea) is a Korean artist whose practice involves installation, performance, and photography. In her art pieces, she revisits ideas related to the universal objects of human experience such as labour, time, and love.
To learn more about Coded Gestures, please visit the exhibition’s official web page.
You may also be interested in visiting The Storyteller at Leila Heller Gallery.