Warehouse421 names recipients of its Artistic Exhibition Development Program

Ammar Al Attar, from the series Sibeel Water (2013)

Warehouse421’s Artistic Development Exhibition Program, launched in collaboration with The Institute for Emerging Art, has its first cohort. Ammar Al Attar, Mohammed Khalid and Jill Magi will each get AED 10,000 for their participation, plus AED 24,000 production fee and a solo show at Warehouse421 next year.

All three are interesting artists and the resulting exhibitions should be well worth the trip. Ammar Al Attar works primarily with photography, using images to comment on life and ideas. His first solo show, for instance, was Prayer Rooms – a collection of varied Muslim sacred spaces ranging from temporary roadside mosques to prayer rooms in sleek office buildings, an effective commentary on the unifying nature of Islam and the way worship transcends physical surroundings.

We saw it at Cuadro Gallery back in 2012 (Cuadro still represents him and has hosted several Ammar Al Attar shows). Snce them Al Attar has produce several equally thoughtful surveys of the unexpected with the quotidian, increasingly focussing on people rather than places, His ongoing project is Reverse Moments, exploring is the photographic studios of the UAE that documents a social history of the UAE. Ammar Al Attar was also one of the judges for this year’s Vantage Point Sharjah 9 photography exhibition.

Ammar Al-Attar, from the series Prayer Rooms (2012)

Jill Magi, who’s on faculty at NYU Abu Dhabi, works primarily in text, image, and textile with projects in painting and drawing too. She is the author of six books of poetry (and many handmade chapbooks), she has had solo exhibitions at the New York University Project Space gallery and with Tashkeel in Dubai, she is one of the founders of a chapbook-oriented literature initiative called JARA Collective, and 18 months ago she had an interesting exhibit at Grey Noise under the title Poetry School.

That was described by the gallery as “a teaching, publishing, performance, and archival display space” organised around the question ‘how does poetry come to be and what does it do?’ The answer, somewhat perversely, seems to lie in recursion, suggesting to us that poetry is what it is (though of course) there’s more than that to recursivity, and to poetry).

We also enjoyed her 2017 solo show at Tashkeel’s Al Fahidi outpost. Portable Horizons was an exploration of what she called “textility” – repetitive patterning instead of focal point, scene, narrative, background and foreground. It included paintings, fabric works, experimental embroideries, sculpture, and (of course) poetry.

Jill Magi, from the exhibition Poetry School

Mohammed Khalid is the youngest of the three and the least well established, but his 2022 show should be at least as thought-provoking. An alumnus of the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship and Campus Art Dubai 7.0 who’s been in group shows at Warehouse421 and Art Dubai as a direct result, his practice involves finding meaning in everyday things – “he attempts to extract and question relationships between hidden narratives, speculative identity, and fictionalised histories” as one summary puts it.

Often these insights feel very substantial. A ceramic bar of soap with “Lux” imprinted on it, for instance, ensures that the soap can never be worn away; but then that’s the nature of soap. He finds a degree of majesty and pathos in the wilted palm trees you see so often in the UAE (right, from the Flaccid series), and he wants to capture that in drawing or pottery. And he collects the documents of everyday life – from till receipts and utility bills to snapshots of sunsets – to make sense of them.

Mohammed Khalid, SMS (2020)

The Artistic Developmental Exhibition programme is conceived as a commissioning exhibition. It aims to provide opportunities to UAE-based artists with “rigorous and sustained” practices, encourage them to think about the reception of their work in a public institution and interaction with their communities. The participating artists will be supported by art educators and curators towards producing a new body of work, developing their exhibitions from the initial ideas through to the installation of artworks, production of the accompanying textual materials, and an associated public engagement programme.

The programme is one of a series of open calls from Warehouse421, themselves part of a still-evolving capacity-building imitative which results from focus groups and responses to Warehouse421’s general public activities.

A note from the editor: sorry about the apparent confusion between ‘program’ and ‘programme’. magpie follows UK English for our house style, but we also respect names and titles – basically, words with initial caps. So Warehouse421’s Program is a programme. To add to the mix, we acknowledge that a computer program is a term in its own right and not a programme (because it originated in the States and so follows US spelling convention).

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