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Hind Mezaina’s Work Is A Reflection on Dubai During Extraordinary Pandemic Times

The Emirati artist’s work is a continuous development of what she describes as ‘visual archaeology’ through research, observation, collecting and preserving memories.

Hind Mezaina’s “Wonder Land” explores her renewed understanding of Dubai gained over the last year and brings to the foreground nuances and unnoticed elements of the city. Presented by Tashkeel, the Emirati visual artist, writer and film curator’s first solo exhibition, which is presented through analogue photography and film, kicks off the beginning of the UAE’s pioneering art hub’s summer season.

The visual artist, who also launched The Culturist blog and co-founded the Tea with Culture podcast, had first aimed to focus on a decade of personal practice and concepts unresolved over recent years. However, she swerved course to explore the impact of the pandemic on Dubai, where she lives. Mezaina details the pandemic pause, where fast-paced Dubai, with all its hectic highways, frenetic construction and populated streets, ground to a halt. From the blank highway billboards and hidden pedestrian paths to defunct public phone booths, she considers the translation of imagery through its materiality and size.

“Hind took the travel restrictions last year as an opportunity to explore her home city and remove herself from the often-stifling familiarity that sets in when you live in a place for so long and adopt an almost third-person objectivity towards it,” Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Tashkeel’s Deputy Director, said. “The extraordinary consequences of the pandemic – social, economic and industrial – exposed the city as an abandoned fairground, allowing her to bring to the fore unnoticed elements of its fabric, indicative of an environment in flux.”

“Wonder Land” is the outcome of one year’s worth of research by Mezaina, who was selected for A.i.R Dubai 2015. The exhibition by the talented artist known for delving into collective memory and the notion of heritage and media representation of Dubai and the UAE is part of Tashkeel’s 2020 Critical Practice Programme. During the self-directed programme by the art facility that seeks to provide a nurturing environment for the growth of contemporary art and design practice rooted in the UAE, Mezaina was mentored by curator and photographic consultant Peggy Sue Amison. The creative with various commissioned projects under her belt also received studio support, training and critique to strengthen her contemporary visual arts practice. 

The Salama Emerging Artist Fellowship graduate, who has exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the UAE, will personally lead nine guided tours of her exhibition. Held in accordance with Dubai government safety guidelines, the exhibition is accompanied by a printed catalogue featuring contributions by prominent figures, including the architect and writer Todd Reisz, and Rana AlMutawa, a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford.

Booking in advance is essential via email [email protected] or call +971 4 336 3313.

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