For the summer months, 1×1 Gallery in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai have restarted their bi-monthly focus on one specific artist taking over one wall of the gallery. To kick off the series is Cristiana De Marchi, a long-time collaborator with the gallery. De Marchi often works with embroidery and with muted tones, so her work is gentle and quiet, but nonetheless powerful in its messages. This pop-up show, which will be up for only two weeks – so make time to go and see it – consists of mixed media work, video and installation that comments on issues of national identity, migration and transient communities.
An Atlas of Clouds. Colonial Clouds (2018) is a set of 24 embroidery-on-watercolor-paper works, which combine shapes of colonised countries and their respective colonisers through history. The white thread on white paper gives the pieces an almost embossed quality and forces the viewer to come close, to inspect the shapes that evade the physical correspondence to those reproduced in atlas books. In this way, the maps become portraits and visualise the multi-layered composition of an increasing number of people around the world. It is the artist’s take on the impermanence of history and the pieces resemble the transience of clouds. In an accompanying work, Commemorative Stamps. An Atlas of Clouds (2018) small photographs of actual clouds above Dubai have been placed into small frames and displayed as postage stamps. “Clouds mark a space for a brief time, the brief time of observation and suddenly their shape, consistency and density has changed and nothing of the past impression survives,” writes De Marchi in the artwork description. This is a condition specific to those who move and migrate, which particularly resonates in the UAE.
The mini-presentation is bookended by Shine (2011) an older work where the word, woven into a shining fabric is a physical reference to the material as well as perhaps the social shine that blinds many of us in the UAE; and Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (2018) a bowling ball sprayed with red, white and blue, passing a comment on a symbol of a nationhood and the distortion of those values once placed upon a sphere and rolled on the ground.
OneWall: Cristiana De Marchi. 15 May – 30 May, 1×1 Gallery, Unit 10, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.