"So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish"

2 June - 17 July 2014

As the heat dawns upon us and a lucky few start contemplating leaving for cooler climes, Lawrie Shabibi is pleased to present a group show bringing together four artists whose work all include elements of the absurd, the surreal and hint at possible futures. Inspired by the fourth book in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, the title is a message left by dolphins when they left Planet Earth just before it was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Preoccupations with Sci-Fi, fantasy, transformations and magic permeate the show, which combines animation, painting, photography and video. Elements of nostalgia for an ordinary life are cajoled by bizarre forces into a strange new world, where ritual, violence and technology complete to be catch of the day. The little things that justify our existence are questioned as we seek to find a way out on a new wave.

 

Adam Dix's neo-futurist paintings speak of a time of historical optimism, when absolute faith was put into new communication devices; embraced as powerful spiritual icons for the modern age, which deserved to be worshipped and revered. The collective awe and wonder is palpable; any sense of individuality is forgotten in the group dynamic. Using a muted palette and strong, dramatic lighting, Dix's fictive landscapes seem to be taken from a post-apocalyptic world. Satellite discs take on the role of haloes or crop circles and phone masts totems or flags; lead characters are disguised by wearing Shaman-like masks and costumes. The merging of folklore, local religion and science fiction throw us into an uncertain future.

 

Tala Madani infuses her video animations with the rich brushstrokes and loose, expressive technique that characterize her paintings, creating uncomfortable scenes in which bald, middle-aged men engage in absurd scenarios that fuse playfulness with violence and perversity. Eye Stabber is a fantastical vignette, taking place in a sinister alleyway where the protagonist's torso becomes covered in cutouts of different eyes. Overcome by this curious turn of events he lashes out, eventually escaping this bloody mess and propelling his shrunken form into a rubbish bin at the rear of the set. Created for Madani's travelling show at Moderna Museet, Malmo and Stockholm in 2013, it was also exhibited at the Marrakech Biennale 5 earlier this year.

 

A winner of the 2014 Abraaj Group Art Prize, Basim Magdy's practice is grounded in an interest in iconic images and objects found outside of explicit historical investigation and political referencing. His work concerns itself with the social implications of such symbols, and their transformation over time, forming a mix of legend and bizarre cultural constructions and encounters. Here he presents a selection from the ongoing photographic series Every Subtle Gesture, which featured in the Istanbul Biennial in 2013. Snapshots seemingly from an archive, whose relevance and purpose remains unknown, are paired with phrases invented by the artist, coming together to create an indecipherable narrative. 

 

The video A Space of Celebration from 2009 by Taus Makhacheva that was part of the Art Dubai 2014 film programme, brings us back to earth by revealing the absurdity of highly commercialized lavish wedding ceremonies. By focusing on an event that is common to all worldy cultures and speaks to the heart of human existence, Makhacheva helps us discover (or remember) the traits that make us distinct and extraordinary.

 

For biographies of the artists please download the press release.