Melissa Gronlund


    NO ONE EXPECTED the internal dispute among the Arabian Gulf states to last this long. Since June 2017, four of the states—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt—have severed economic and diplomatic relations with Qatar. The dispute doesn’t just exist on a government level but weighs on the minds of residents: Those living on both sides of the divide privately lament the crisis while publicly—i.e., on social media—refraining from liking posts by or openly communicating with friends from estranged countries. It has also affected the operations of the art world, both in terms

  • Hassan Sharif

    Hassan Sharif, who died in September 2016, is broadly credited with bringing international art idioms such as Conceptualism to the United Arab Emirates; he was, by all accounts, the center of the generation of Emirati avant-garde artists of the 1980s and ’90s who broke with traditional art forms. Coming a year after his death, this retrospective is situated somewhere between an homage to the artist and an attempt to come to grips with his vastly productive, unruly practice.

    “Hassan Sharif: I Am the Single Work Artist” is curated by the Sharjah Art Foundation’s president and director, Hoor Al

  • the Louvre Abu Dhabi

    WHAT MORE CAN BE SAID about the Louvre Abu Dhabi? Since the original agreement was signed between France and the United Arab Emirates in 2007, buckets of ink have been spilled about the museum on Saadiyat Island, sixteen hundred feet off the coast of Abu Dhabi. And not just in the popular press: There are conferences and book-length studies that have been devoted to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and to the larger phenomenon of starchitect museums in the Arabian Gulf—despite the fact that this phenomenon has yet to fully materialize. (Of the seven museums that are planned, in Abu Dhabi, Doha, and

  • Yazan Khalili

    Yazan Khalili’s show “On the Other Side of the Law” analyzed life in Ramallah from the standpoint of legality, focusing on the often-absurd contortions to which Palestinians must submit their daily routines in order to accommodate international laws. Khalili connects questions of lawfulness to a discourse on the circulation of images, adapting a strand of recent critique to illustrate the larger political failings of a system ill-equipped for the realities of its subjects’ lives. 

    The three-channel video installation Robbery in Area A, 2013–16, for example, highlights flaws in the West Bank’s


    DUBAI LOOMS LARGE in the world’s cultural imaginary: To many, it is the ultimate no-place, a site of extreme inauthenticity and soulless globalization, pure capital solidified into glass and steel. Swatting away those clichés is a favorite pastime of those who actually live here, who know that the city’s polyglot character—a staggering 83 percent of residents in Dubai are foreign—often forms the basis of new identities.

    For the artist Lantian Xie, who was raised in Dubai by parents of Chinese heritage, the city’s heterogeneity is a rich source of material. In his installations, scripts,

  • “Safeguarding Cultural Heritage”

    THIS PAST DECEMBER in Abu Dhabi, a group of high-level dignitaries convened to discuss an especially horrible facet of the current crisis of Islamist terrorism: the systematic and wholesale destruction of sites and artifacts of world heritage. The conference, “Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage,” was held at the opulent Emirates Palace, where its hosts, France’s President François Hollande and the United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, gave remarks, and Irina Bokova, the director general of UNESCO, and ministers from countries around the world delivered speeches.

  • Christian Bonnefoi

    Christian Bonnefoi creates large, multicolored canvases of diagonals and stripes, squiggles and turns, that are steeped in the history of abstraction and the theories that have accompanied it. Bonnefoi’s recent show, “Double Take,” concentrated on paintings from 1974 to 1980, with just six later works, and was curated by Sylvie Turpin, who has long collaborated with the artist. In many of them, large canvases are stretched across metal or wooden frames, which remain visible through the gauzy muslin that Bonnefoi characteristically uses—an extremely delicate material called tarlatan. He

  • “The Short Century”

    A major problem of twentieth-century art history in the Arab region has been one of visibility. Even the high points of Arab Modernism, the movement that flourished across the Maghreb and the Middle East from the 1950s to the ’70s, are often little seen. This owes as much to regionalism as to the fact that most twentieth-century Arab work was privately collected, and these collections either were dispersed by war, as was the case for many Iraqi collectors; remained on view only in private homes; or were bequeathed to museums with only a limited sense of social responsibility.

    This is the background

  • Maeve Connolly’s TV Museum

    “THERE’S SOME KIND OF a haunting here that I’m picking up,” warns Mindy, a late-night psychic on a fake public-access television show in Phil Collins’s latest film, Tomorrow Is Always Too Long, 2014. “Does it make sense to ask yourself: Who have I become? . . . When did touch turn from a skin-to-skin contact into the glow of a missed FaceTime call?” Collins’s restaging of public-access spots is one of a number of artists’ sympathetic explorations of television within artistic work over the past fifteen years. TV has emerged as a subject of not only formal but also social and what might be called

  • film May 06, 2009

    Define Intervention

    “THE QUESTION IS, WHAT’S NOT ‘EXPANDED CINEMA’?” artist Malcolm Le Grice noted during Tate Modern’s sold-out conference April 17–19, which featured three days of films, performances, and presentations on the subject. The event was an attempt to historicize and bring into mainstream academic discourse the indefinite “movement” of Expanded Cinema, an oft-marginalized grouping of works and practices within the already fringe movement of experimental film. A number of speakers from the London Film-makers’ Co-op gave interviews about their work, younger academics traced connections between canonical

  • film February 12, 2009

    Paper Trail

    IN 1993, STANLEY KUBRICK abandoned the extensive research he’d been conducting for Aryan Papers, a film about a young Jewish woman, Tania, who tries to save her family by pretending they are Catholic. The project’s ephemera remain in Kubrick’s London archive: photographs of Johanna ter Steege, the Dutch actress cast for the lead, in various costumes; Kubrick’s own notes; images of Warsaw during World War II; and photographs from 1939–40 of Ealing Studios in London. As a complement to the Kubrick retrospective currently screening at the British Film Institute, the artists Jane and Louise Wilson

  • film January 29, 2009

    Brick House

    SOME SOUNDS STICK WITH YOU, and three years after I last saw Robert Beavers’s masterful cycle My Hand Outstretched to the Winged Distance and Sightless Measure (1967–2002), the noise of fluttering pigeons is still madeleine material, a direct connection to the flapping birds in the Italy of the filmmaker’s tightly focused, mosaiclike works. Living abroad in the 1970s, Beavers documented old Europe through the lens of a young American, finding in its manicured gardens, crumbling facades, and handed-down craft techniques the problems of beauty, age, and artistic influence. In Ruskin (1975/1997),

  • film November 11, 2008

    Boot Camp

    WELL, HE’S STILL ALIVE. At filmmaker Curtis Harrington’s funeral last year, Kenneth Anger predicted that he himself would die on October 31, 2008—the date that he later chose for the London premiere of his two most recent videos: Ich Will!, comprising found footage of a Hitler Youth rally, and Uniform Attraction (both 2008), a study of US Marines. (“I’ve always found men in uniform very attractive, and I think a lot of women do, too,” he told the rowdy crowd at the debut.)

    The screening’s venue, the Imperial War Museum, turned out to be more portentous than the forecasted Halloween date; gone