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From Land to A.i.R.

“It’s a negotiation with the land.” So said Moza Almatrooshi as she spoke with Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim at Alserkal Avenue’s A4 space last Saturday night as part of Artists-in-Residency (A.i.R.) Dubai. Both Emiratis discussed the term land art, and contrasted their different ways of interacting with their surroundings – Ibrahim through his direct intervention, and Almatrooshi through more investigative means.

Ibrahim is one of the UAE’s most internationally recognised and widely shown artists, and was an A.i.R. resident in 2015. His art-making began in the 1970s with his arrangements of stones during solo camping trips in his homeland of Khor Fakkan on the UAE’s coast. He described being made aware of the definition ‘land art’ much later, when his work was observed by fellow artist Hassan Sharif.

Moza Almatrooshi, work in progress, A.i.R.

Moza Almatrooshi, work in progress, A.i.R.

One of this year’s residents, Almatrooshi spoke of how she too was creating a form of land art before realising the term. Unlike Ibrahim, Almatrooshi is at the start of her career, one covering both art and design, having recently graduated from the Sheikha Salama Emerging Artist Fellowship. She talked about her art as a performative act, brought back to the studio through gestures and pictures, rather than directly modifying the environment.

A.i.R. Dubai is a partnership between Art Dubai, Tashkeel, Dubai Culture and Delfina. It started this 25th January and ends 25th March, featuring site-specific works at Art Dubai Projects. There are talks, workshops and community projects along the way. Independent curator and writer Yasmina Reggad curates this year’s programme. The other residents are Algerian Lydia Ourahmane, who has already shown in the ICA London; Emirati sound artist Jumairy; and Palestinian artist Areej Kaoud who earlier this month presented a performance entitled The Artist Hard At Work as part of her residency.

Moza Almatrooshi, A.i.R.

Moza Almatrooshi, A.i.R.

Filed under: Art


Anya Stafford is a writer living between the UAE and Ireland. She has over 15 years' experience as an online editor and writer for the likes of Google, Sony, Deezer and City Arts Centre Dublin. She recently completed first year of the MFA in Media through the National College of Art and Design, and before that the MSc in Interactive Digital Media in Trinity College, both in Dublin. Her ongoing research focuses on systems of art, and the aesthetics of ecosystems.

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