Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Under Construction Part II expands on the notion of the uncompleted project, the work in progress, presenting a series of evolving, paradoxical, overlapping paradigms, where histories are re-evaluated, cultural artefacts re-examined, and multiple futures are explored. Works by Farhad Ahrarnia (b. 1971, Iran), Mounir Fatmi (b. 1970, Morocco), Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim (b. 1962, UAE), Nadia Kaabi-Linke (b. 1978, Tunisia), Yazan Khalili (b. 1981, Syria), Driss Ouadahi (b. 1959, Morocco) and Larissa Sansour (b. 1973, East Jerusalem) are included.
Farhad Ahrarnia’s embroideries entitled On the Road, the Silk Road (2010-2011) capture the artist’s continued interest in the legacy of Greater Persia, while instigating the resurrection of the delicate ties that were severed during the Soviet period. Ahrarnia subtly offers suggestions for new and alternative routes, mapped through threading and stitching, yet his works acknowledge the reality of knowing that one can never really go back to a nostalgic epic past, but can only move forward. Ahrarnia’s The Dig (2018), a silver-plated bronze shovel embossed with the Assyrian motif of an unmounted horseman, embodies the ghost of the artefact that adorns its surface, carrying the potential to be buried and itself rediscovered as an artefact in a future time.
Manger Square (2012) from Larissa Sansour’s photographic series Nation Estate accompanies her film of the same title, wherein she proposes a much-reduced Palestinian state as a skyscraper - each floor accommodating a Palestinian city or landscape. The female lead, played by Sansour, travels upwards in an elevator from one city to the other passing by iconic symbols and landmarks that recreate both a sense of history and of displacement. Resembling a Fabergé egg, Sansour’s Archaeology in Absentia (2016) is a bronze munition replica that opens to reveal a disc engraved with the coordinates to a deposit of hand-painted porcelain plates buried in Palestine. The artwork conveys a false sense of history, to be excavated by future generations.
Apartheid Monochromes (2017) by Yazan Khalili is a set of painted canvases that focus on divisions of identity, race, borders and citizenship. Referencing Yves Klein’s monochromes, the canvases come in the colours of ID cards issued by Israel – colour coded based on the background of their holder, thus affecting the political, economic and social lives of Palestinians. Khalili’s set of photographs Cracks Remind me of Roadkills (2014) show random cracks that resemble the triangular map of Palestine, juxtaposed with details of short stories; the cracks as a break of the flow of time, like a minor history breaking the mainstream narratives.
Mounir Fatmi’s Calligraphies of the Unknown (2019-2020) combine calligraphic shapes with other geometric figures inspired by the graphics that represent the fluctuations of the stock market. Often limited to the primary colours, the paintings remind of computer monitors, such as the ones showing stock exchange prices. Fatmi deconstructs the abstract and complex alphabet of the financial language, reflecting his belief that to understand the world, one must measure the pulse of both the financial markets and the flea markets.
Scorched Earth (2018) by Nadia Kaabi-Linke, a floor sculpture made of stoneware slabs water cut using a computer-controlled procedure, traces the course of the soil and weed-filled cracks between cobblestones on the Neumarkt in Dresden. On this site corpses were gathered the day after the firestorms caused by two nights of raids by British and American bombers, devastating the city in February 1945, killing twenty thousand. The cracks in the ground - the result of the intense heat.
Finally, works referencing the landscapes and cityscapes of the UAE include Driss Ouadahi’s Inside Zenith (2014), inspired following a visit to Dubai in the midst of the construction boom of the last decade, and Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim’s Towers (2017) which, though industrial in outline, are made of delicate, recycled materials - papier maché, cardboard and dried leaves.