Farjam Foundation, DIFC, Dubai
Until June 24

Featuring a tight selection of eight works from six artists, this exhibition explores notions of boundaries and division whilst simultaneously focusing on commonalities. All works are from the prestigious Farjam Collection, except for the large-scale installation from Owais Husein, which was specifically commissioned for the show. Titled History, Crucible of the Self, Husein’s work snakes across the gallery floor and speaks about the idea of migration, displacement and the weight of both the emotional and physical baggage that migrants assimilate into new environments.

Several of the works feature blurred imagery, used as a technical device to direct a viewer’s attention away from what they actually see to what they feel or instinctively know. Halim Al Karim, an Iraqi artist who suffered a great deal of personal trauma after he escaped from military service during the first Gulf War and was forced to live in a hole in the ground for three years, has often relied on the use of screens or out of focus images to explore ideas of detachment and disengagement. His blurred images – the one here is from his Hidden series – imply an uncertainty of context in time and place and also point to his artistic perspective, which is that humanity’s best form of defence against violence is to shield the inner character and soul from the peering eyes of the outside world.

Afshan Daneshvar’s Nafas – an 18-metre scroll of white paper upon which she has written the word “nafas” 25,000 times – is an attempt to visually represent breath. Nafas means breath in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi and therefore represents life as well as unity across linguistic and cultural differences, which so often divide us.

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Inventing Perspective #45, page 33.