Warehouse421 apparently received 140 applications from artists around the region for the first edition of the Homebound Residency Programme it launched back in June.
Now seven projects by eight residents have been selected, each of whom gets up to AED 30,000 for materials and equipment and materials – but not for studio space, because the aim of the ‘residencies’ is to encourage the artists to realise their projects in their own spaces. Indeed, to do so at home: hence ‘homebound’.
It does aim at generating new work, and especially at fostering digital forms of community engagement in the artists’ practices – a sensible and considered response to the current situation, where the ‘new normal’ will require forms of communication beyond the usual in-person experience. As Faisal Al Hassan, Head of Warehouse421, said: “This residency programme was scheduled to take place at Warehouse421 in Mina Zayed, but the reality we live in today created a necessity to redefine space and attempt to decentralise artists’ production.”
The residencies will culminate in “a digital exposition of process and work”. Some projects seem more amenable to this approach than others, but at first glance they all look interesting – the Warehoiuse421 jury appears to have done a good job here.
Artists and projects
Batool Desouky and Zain Mahjoub long associated with curatorial and other work as individuals for Sharjah Arts Foundation, the pair have more recently come together for projects ;ole Tariff, an experimental online publishing platform that launched in late 2018. Batool Desouky has also exhibited regularly, including a fascinating project for the Goldsmiths’ MA/MFA Degree Show last month (“a speculative tool for the modern tech-witch”). Their Homebound project aims to start a discussion with contributors and readers worldwide to discuss the cultural, political, and temporal overlap between Arabic and English.
Bhoomika Asvinkumar Ghaghada a marketing strategist and creative consultant, she aims to develop “tools and interaction technologies to cultivate a mindset of exchange and collective-first … This project will explore how to cultivate reciprocity in digital spaces by setting up a space of abundance and openness”.
Engy Mohsen Engy’s artistic focus is currently on exploring notions of ‘participation’ and ‘collectivity’. Her Homebound project involves brief encounters between strangers via video chat; past projects include a fascinating ‘textbook’ of chat room typologies, so this one sounds like a complementary exercise.
Fatima Uzdenova Fatima will be developing a fictional University of Djudjustan that offers a variety of courses, modules, seminars, and lectures; Djudjustan U will feature “holistic teaching methods and alternative educational initiatives”. She’s an alumnus of the Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellowship and finished a Masters in sculpture at the RCA in 2019, where her degree show featured a ‘museum of banishment’ as a way to examine an institutionalised structure of power and analyse the dissemination of knowledge. Her Homebound residency continues this interest, “to explore what fictive as a mode of art production can achieve” as she put it in a recent interview. “What kind of pedagogical methods are most beneficial in this moment in time and going forward? Can education forge new alliances and initiatives that are mutually supportive, outside contemporary tribal /racial formations and hierarchies in the art world and educational system?”
Mahshid Rafiei A writer and artist based primarily in Toronto, Mahshid participated in March Meeting 2019: Leaving the Echo Chamber at Sharjah Art Foundation. Her projects typically combine critical writing and pedagogical approaches with exhibitions and programming to explore anti-institutional strategies; Mahshid’s Homebound project will focus on the myth of piracy in the Arabian Gulf during the 18th century – a time when the region was branded as ‘The Pirate Coast’ by the British to delegitimise Gulf rulers as colonial rule expanded from the Indian Ocean to Egypt.
Mona Ayyash Mona Ayyash says her practice focuses on repetition, memory, slowness and boredom. Her Homebound project revolves around collecting videos in an attempt to speed-up or slow-down time; she intends to create a one-hour video containing a series of small videos, pushing the themes of attention and boredom.
Rand Abdul Jabbar A multi-disciplinary artist who blurs the boundaries between design, architecture, and the visual arts, Abdul Jabbar has an interest in the ephemera of place, history and memory, currently focussing on remnants of historic, cultural and personal narratives surrounding Iraq. She had an interesting show in NYUAD’s Project Space in June 2019 (Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings) which considered the fragile and multi-layered histories embedded within the shared geography of the land. The Homebound project continues these themes, again examining the remnants of historic, cultural, and personal narratives surrounding Iraq.