Best of Dubai
Selections explores the most interesting and inspiring exhibitions set to grace Dubai’s galleries this autumn
To Be or Not To Be, That Is the Question. And Though, It Troubles the Digestion*
Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde
September 13 to November 2
It’s unfair to say that it feels strange to contemplate a solo exhibition by Ramin Haerizadeh. It is his fourth solo with Isabelle Van Den Eyde, the last having launched Isabelle’s space in Alserkal. It is understandable, however, given that, ever since, Haerizadeh has exclusively exhibited collaboratively with his brother Rokni and friend Hesam Rahmanian, with tremendous global success. Their mad, phantasmagorical world, which originated in their shared living and workspace in Dubai, has captivated audiences from Boston to Brisbane and resulted in publications, institutional acquisitions and invitations to participate in biennials the world over.
This show is a fascinating opportunity to disassemble their collaborative practice and see how far Haerizadeh has developed as an artist. Influences from the quirky collective work abound but his unique style is evident too. His earliest works were dominated by photography and a singular style of manipulating images by using repetition and symmetry, ultimately distorting them so completely they become something new entirely. Amalgamation, collage, humour and the absurd are still at the heart of his production. Not content with one photographic image, he reprints and reuses them over again, recycling work that has even been exhibited already — working in constant flux.
Documents both trivial and significant are thrown together, creating interesting juxtapositions: commuters on Dubai metro, protests in Turkey, plastic food packaging, an old film poster — somehow he makes bizarre montages happily co-exist. Certain elements are representative of his life, such as parts of his mother’s diary and photo albums. Man’s relationship with food and his body are important themes and the highly politicised tone of his practice is clear throughout. The exhibition’s title, despite its reference to Hamlet, mortality and human foibles, comes from a poem about the political age we can’t help but live in.
Featured image: Ramin Haerizadeh, Still Life, 2017, collage on paper, 72 × 101 cm
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, A Dialogue Between Generations of Arab Women in Art #42, page 34.