Emirati visual artist Hind Mezaina sheds light on an unseen Dubai in first solo exhibition

Tashkeel’s Summer Season begins with ‘Wonder Land’, a solo exhibition that uses the pandemic as a lens to archive the nuanced qualities of the city, from 25 May – 6 July

Dubai, UAE – 23 May 2021 | Tashkeel is proud to present ‘Wonder Land’, the first solo exhibition by artist, writer, film curator, blogger and podcaster Hind Mezaina and the 12th public outcome of Tashkeel’s Critical Practice Programme. ‘Wonder Land’ explores Mezaina’s renewed understanding of Dubai gained over last year, presented through analogue photography and film, that brings to the foreground nuances and unnoticed elements of the city.

Known for delving into collective memory and the notion of heritage and media representation of Dubai and the UAE, ‘Wonder Land’ is the outcome of Hind Mezaina’s year-long research and work as part of Tashkeel’s 2020 Critical Practice Programme. During the self-directed programme, she was mentored by curator and photographic consultant Peggy Sue Amison, and received studio support, training and critique to strengthen her contemporary visual arts practice.  

The artist had first set out to focus on a decade of personal practice and concepts unresolved over recent years but changed course to explore the impact of the pandemic on her hometown of Dubai. Using photography and film, Mezaina documents the pandemic pause where fast-paced Dubai – evident in its hectic highways, frenetic construction and populated streets – ground to a halt. From the blank highway billboards and hidden pedestrian paths to obsolete public phone booths, she considers the translation of imagery through its materiality and size.

“We are thrilled to begin our 2021 Summer Season with Hind Mezaina’s reflection on Dubai in these unprecedented times. This is her first solo show and Tashkeel’s third public outcome of the 2020 Critical Practice Programme,” says Lisa Ball-Lechgar, the deputy director of Tashkeel.

“Hind took the travel restrictions last year as an opportunity to explore her home city and remove herself from the often-stifling familiarity that sets in when you live in a place for so long and adopt an almost third-person objectivity towards it. The extraordinary consequences of the pandemic – social, economic and industrial – exposed the city as an abandoned fairground, allowing her to bring to the fore unnoticed elements of its fabric, indicative of an environment in flux.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a printed catalogue featuring contributions by prominent figures including the architect and writer Todd Reisz, and PhD candidate at the University of Oxford Rana AlMutawa.  A digital version of the catalogue is available on the Tashkeel website. Mezaina will personally lead nine guided tours of her exhibition for which visitors can book by emailing [email protected]

Tashkeel’s Critical Practice Programme, which was established in 2014, offers sustained studio support, training, critique and production of up to one year for practicing contemporary visual artists living and working in the UAE. The current cohort of the 2020 programme is Mays Albeik, Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, Hind Mezaina, and Nora Zeid.

‘Wonder Land’ will run at the gallery in Tashkeel Nad Al Sheba 1, Dubai from 25 May to 6 July 2021. The exhibition opens from 10am to 10pm daily, except Fridays, and admission is free. Booking in advance is essential via email [email protected] or call +971 4 336 3313. For details on the programme, the exhibition and the tours, visit tashkeel.org.

*The studio follows health and safety guidelines issued by the Dubai Government. As such, all events are socially-distanced and capacities are limited. All visitors to Tashkeel are required to wear masks and use the sanitiser stations available across the building.

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