Alia Farid and Aseel Al Yaqoub as the opening commission for the Art Jameel Centre in Dubai
By Joe Sperrin
Alia Farid and Aseel Al Yaqoub, famous for their understanding of the intersection between art and architecture, have come together to be the first commission by Art Jameel. Their piece: Contrary Life: A Botanical Light Garden Devoted to Trees, will be found in the Art Jameel Centre to open in Dubai later this year.
Art Jameel, is a foundation set up in various location around the Middle East that focuses on the collaboration of communities through art. It runs various foundations and academies for up and coming artists in the region such as Farid and Al Yaqoub. The wider community project labelled Community Jameel, looks to work in collaboration with sister foundations, such as Art Jameel, in order to aid the economic and demographic situations confronting the region. Art Jameel was founded in 2003, following the foundation of Community Jameel in the 1940s during the height of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The foundation has worked alongside wider internationally renowned galleries such as the V&A in London and the Met in New York. The Jameel Arts Centre is due to open in the winter of 2018 and will be the first gallery of its kind to open in Dubai. Following this, the foundation has plans to open a larger centre, the Hayy: Creative Club, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2019.
Both Aseel Al Yaqoub and Alia Farid are from Kuwait, and their collaboration on this project is arguably one of the most iconic moves in the region in terms of modern art. With the current situation in terms of women’s rights in the Middle East, this collaboration proves to be a testimony of the changing perceptions of women, both domestically and internationally. Both women criticise their society, with Farid tending to combine principles of social anthropology, architecture and art to understand how formal networks work within society. She says: “Today I’m still interested in these areas, but with a much more focused point on telling how informal networks are forced to make up for lack of formal structure”. Al Yaqoub, on the other hand, takes a more nostalgic interpretation of her own society and sees her past as being a tool for her creation and exposing some major underlying issues facing both women and society.
Above all, however, is the focus on the community. The Art Jameel project is something that aims to be a cohesive force within the Middle Eastern community and overall, seeks to integrate art into Middle Eastern life. For Farid and Al Yaqoub, this has been a major opportunity for them to express some of their beliefs and reflections on how society functions, and the project is an exciting and ever-changing opportunity for emerging artists in a region with fragmented values.
Alia Farid Biography, 2018, https://aliafarid.net/Biography
Art Jameel Homepage, 2018, https://artjameel.org/about/art-jameel/
“Art Jameel Names Winers of Inaugural Artist Commission”, Artnews. 2018. http://www.artnews.com/2018/02/26/art-jameel-names-winners-inaugural-artist-commission/
“Aseel Al Yaqoub: Arabs Abroad”, Bazaar Town. 2018. http://bazaar.town/aseel-al-yaqoub-arabs-abroad/
Aseel Al Yaqoub Homepage, 2018, http://www.aseelalyaqoub.com/about-avenue/