By Hamda AlHashemi (@Hamda_Alhashemi)
When it comes to looking at a work of art, it does not matter if you do not see what everyone else sees. In fact, it is impossible for two viewers to look at a piece of artwork and describe or interpret it in the same way. Without noticing it, our opinions change gradually. Sometimes this change is a result of the change in environment, meeting certain people, or reading something that changed your way of thinking.
When I visited the “Biladi” exhibition in “Tashkeel”, and looked at Reem AlGhaith’s art piece about Dubai, it felt like I am looking at a beautiful, modern city; except it was not the city I knew. I look at this developed city but I can see that so much has changed and I wonder, is this the Dubai I know? Is this the same place I was born and raised in?
Reem AlGhaith is a 24-year-old Emirati artist who studied in the American University in Sharjah. As a visual artist, her work concentrates on the urban and social landscape changes in Dubai and she relates these changes to tradition and history. She illustrates her work using different methods such as photography, printmaking, and graphic design.
The piece I am going to talk about is a 7×6 meters of mixed media installation. The piece is titled “Dubai: What’s Left of my Land”. Looking at the busy piece, I instantly knew it was about Dubai. But reading the title was a completely different experience. After reading the title, some might feel proud, some might feel neutral, and some might feel sad. I consider myself part of the latter.
To look at the details of the piece, one has to stand close and stare carefully. Wires and construction elements surrounded all the street names and map details. This reflected exactly how I feel as an individual living in Dubai; living in a place where so much is happening that we feel somewhat forgotten. The most obvious elements in the piece were of three construction men and “Burj Khalifa”. I interpreted that as the investment and effort dedicated to modernization and urbanization rather than investing in what is already there such as the individuals or some of the landmark areas.
At the pace at which Dubai is moving right now, it feels like there is just too much going on. And the “development” part of it all is strenuous in mainly one field. All these development ideas are imported from foreign minds when in fact, we as locals must contribute the most. Why do we seem so proud of someone else’s accomplishments?
Like the tiny light bulbs that illuminated some of the old areas in Dubai in Reem’s piece, some people still see them, some people are still proud of these regions. The old memories they have of “what’s left of Dubai” are still worth something.
Another element of the piece that really interested me was the words and letters distributed all around: “artificial”, “in progress”, “change”, “dreams”. These words relate to the visual representations and deeper meanings. Change, for example, is something that I do not only see physically in the buildings and the foreigners, but it is something psychological as well. Dubai is not ours anymore; we have to share most of it with everyone who comes to enjoy its growth. And that alone causes a lot of emotional distress for many of us as locals. When you feel like you are losing something so precious to someone else that does not appreciate it as much as you do, then you are exposed to feeling sorrow.
New experiences are always welcomed, but by changing some things we force ourselves to let go of memories that shaped who we are. Being a Dubai-ian, I wish I could contribute to developing this wonderful city but at the same time preserve some of its authenticity and originality. I always see Al Bastakiya as a great example of how an old neighborhood became an artistic icon; a place where artists come from different countries and backgrounds, to meet and be inspired by each other. And one of the main reasons for that is its aesthetical and historical value of it. Last but not least, I hope that one day, we as locals, will be able to look at Dubai and say: “we made that happen.”
Here We Start – Interview – Just Another Undergrad – Living Through The Eyes of Art
Scenes From Life – To The Point – Words, Observations, and Ramblings – Spotlights
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Hamda AlHashemi is a 20 something year old interior design graduate, and an SZHP employee. She appreciates art, food, psychology and culture. For her, Arabic calligraphy is music for the eyes; beautiful and calming. She thrives to become an entrepreneur of her own furniture line and aims to get her Phd on the long run. Hamda’s articles revolve around how our psychological thoughts influence our actions, and how to use them to our advantage.