The young are taking over (again)

One of the Jameel’s clever ideas has been to find a group of bright young artists, creators and other arts activists and hand over the arts centre’s programming to them for a while. This project – the Youth Takeover – is the culmination of a year-long talent development programme that is intended to nurture engagement, creative talent, and “peer-to-peer knowledge exchange”.

For this third iteration of the annual exercise, eight young creatives (all under 25) from across the UAE were selected from several hundred applicants for this year’s Jameel Assembly. They’ve been through monthly seminars on relevant topics from curation and critiquing to community development, and they’ve now taken over the Jameel’s public spaces from 15 May to 5 June with a programme titled ‘smol’ that offers exhibitions, workshops, and “interventions and provocations”.

The curator of the 2021/22 Youth Assembly learning programme, Daniel H Rey, is himself an alumnus of the programme (2020), He promises that “the Jameel will be buzzing with youthful energy and curiosity, reflective of a regional art community willing to propose anew. This refreshing creative alignment, across members from diverse fields, truly fuels the Takeover as a culmination, a celebration, and invitation to embrace #feelingsmol …”

The 2022 Takeover cohort is Alexis Javero, Anita Shishani, Farah Fawzi Ali, Lubnah Ansari, Raheed Allaf, Rashid Almheiri, Shama Nair and Sree. On their chosen theme, their statement says “smol taps into the curiosities and transformations of being and coming of age, invoking carefree possibilities, nostalgia, new adventures, as well as feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability in today’s world. Metaphorically and stylistically, ‘smol’ is an opportunity to colour outside the lines, bridging dreams with reality, while confronting constricting rules and rituals.”

They have have curated and organised exhibitions featuring works from the Art Jameel Collection, loans from the Endjavi-Barbé Art Collection, and eight new commissions by emerging homegrown artists, spanning 2D and 3D illustrations, installation, audiovisual works and paintings. Those interventions and provocations include a reimagined map of Abu Dhabi, a vanity set with childhood videos, an immersive room-wide illustration, and paintings accompanied by sourced audio.

They also commissioned a series of public programmes in response to the theme, all free for the community. They include sessions on movement and zine-making; a workshop to visualise a dream house through the lens of Gulf-Kerala migration experiences; a film programme responding to the inner child through a feminist lens; a walking tour of Dubai; urban sketching sessions; and participatory theatre performances.

The public programme:

18 May Opening exhibitions and events including Abu Dha-me Sound Activation by Khaled Esguerra

20 May be-ing by Rummān Collective. Commissioned by Alexis Javero; a collective/collaborative zine workshop compiling “thoughts, feelings and memories in hopes to come one step closer to that person we once knew”. Jameel Library Project Space, 4-8pm

21 May Dream Houses by Another Empty House x Sree. An introductory zine workshop, exploring the power of DIY print and checking the research project Another Empty House, which explores and documents the rise in vacant domestic houses in Kerala

21 May Assembly-led Youth Takeover 2022 tour Jameel Lobby, 3-3.45pm

22 May Under a Sky in Transit. An early-morning photowalk with Zeashan Ashraf and Shama Nair, leading to an experimental image-making workshop using the photographs and notes taken Jameel, 5-10am

22 May Support the smols. A youth-led crafts market organised by Farah Fawzi Ali Jameel Lobby, 4-8pm

25 May be-ing by Rummān Collective. A second collective/collaborative zine workshop compiling “thoughts, feelings and memories in hopes to come one step closer to that person we once knew”. Jameel Library Project Space, 4-8pm

27 May A – Z: Cartoon Screening & Writing Exercise by Anita Shishani. “A journey of self-reflection through screening three short cartoons and responding to a series of writing prompts.” Jameel Library, 6-7pm

28 May Exploring the Inner Child amidst Urban Metabolism. A workshop with Manupriam Seth of Urban Sketchers Dubai and Lubnah Ansari. Jameel Lobby, 1.30-3pm

28 May Assembly-led Youth Takeover 2022 tour – the second and final opportunity. Jameel Lobby, 3-3.45pm

28 May be-ing by Rummān Collective. Last of three collective/collaborative zine workshops compiling “thoughts, feelings and memories in hopes to come one step closer to that person we once knew”. Jameel Library Project Space, 4-8pm

29 May Youth Takeover 2022: ‘Smol’ Panel Discussion with the members of the Assembly 2021-2022 and programme curator Daniel H Rey. Jameel Lobby, 6-7pm

29 May Every Brilliant Thing. An interactive play by Duncan Macmillan about a boy who decides to create a list of brilliant things that make life worth living. Stars The Junction’s Gautam Goenka; organised by Farah Ali Fawzi. Jameel Lobby, 8-9pm

4 June Mind Door: Imagination. A playful exploration of theYouth Takeover exhibition smol for children and families by Rashid Almheiri. Jameel Arts Centre, 4-5pm

4 June Every Brilliant Thing. Second and last chance to see this interactive play about a boy who decides to create a list of brilliant things that make life worth living. Jameel Lobby, 8-9pm

The Assembly 2021-2022 members:

Alexis Javero is a Filipino artist based in the UAE. With three friends from Sharjah University, she co-founded Rummān Collective to establish creative learning experiences for early-career artists.

Anita Shishani is a multidisciplinary artist, curator and researcher of Chechen origin, raised in Al Ain, and with a BA in Art History from NYUAD. Anita covers the work and lives of contemporary UAE-based artists and curators through her co-hosted podcast Khosh Bosh; she’s a curator with Dirwaza Curatorial Lab.

Farah Fawzi Ali is an Egyptian-Filipina writer and researcher with a BA in Political Science from the American University in Cairo; her passion for cultivating discourse and collective meaning-making is deeply reflected in her writing, research, and programming.

Lubnah Ansari is a multidisciplinary artist/researcher who engages with Hindu-Muslim households using feminist ethnographic frameworks. She is currently a post-graduate research fellow at NYUAD.

Raheed Allaf studied Multimedia Design at the American University of Sharjah; the Saudi Arabian storyteller’s visual narratives serve as her nostalgic and surrealist escapes from reality, and a medium through which she visualises her poetry.

Rashid Almheiri is an Emirati visual artist with a BA in Graphic Design from AUD. He likes to cultivate his interests in biology, psychology and sociology into forms of expression, and is continuously gravitating towards creating poetic experiences.

Shama Nair is a photographer, writer, and artist. Her work explores our spatial, temporal, and aesthetic relationships with an ever-expanding neoliberal metropolis. She currently works with the Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research and on art/architecture programming for the Goethe-Institut, Gulf Region.

Sree is an artist-researcher, theatre maker, and music producer, a graduate in Theater and Music at NYUAD and currently part of the 9th cohort of the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellowship. Through his experiments with sound, sight, people, and movement, he tries to make sense of what it is to be a brown cis-man that calls Dubai home, while holding an Indian passport.

The Jameel will be open late during the Youth Takeover – Saturday to Thursday 10am-8pm (closed Tuesdays), Friday 12pm-8pm. Many of the participative events have limited capacity, so advance booking is recommended; check out the Jameel’s events page here.

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