In the realm of Dreamscape, a collective of multidisciplinary practitioners engage the Earth through diverse lenses and artistic mediums. Hind bin Demaithan presents an audio-visual installation; Shaqayeq Arabi, a collection of sculptural works; Carolina Cortesi, a series of site-specific performances; Rand Al Hadethi, poetic verse, and Dariush Zandi, large-scale photographic works.
The artists contributing to Dreamscape entered into a discursive process, contributing to and drawing inspiration from one another. So much so that it becomes challenging to understand where one artist's contribution ends and another's begins. Dreamscape emerges, then, as a form of collective consciousness, a sensorial world derived from a kaleidoscope of perspectives.
This ode to the Earth, deeply rooted in the local context, resonates with environmental themes and a profound adoration for the land. Yet, beyond mere appreciation, the exhibited elements pose significant questions to us. The collective challenges us to reflect on our perceptual blind spots, the significance of our memories, the journeys we undertake, and the lingering traces of imperialism that stand between us and our habitat.
Into The Exterior
The artists’ contributions to Dreamscape are divided into two distinct realms. The works that wrap around the exterior - Dariush's tonal landscapes and Rand's poetic verse - seemingly oppose the notion of dreaming with their proximity to reality. The artists, operating both independently and in response to one another, contemplate personal encounters and memories absorbed from the Hajar Mountain range, a stretch of land shared between northern Oman and the eastern Emirates.
Dariush Zandi, The Space Between The Rocks, 2023
The Space Between The Rocks, 2022, is a collection of photographs that captures Dariush’s passage through the Hajar Mountain range. His compositions frame the jagged textures of the crags and crevices, the eerie silhouettes of resilient plant life, and the goats designating the mountainscape as their home in monochrome and sepia tones. Landscapes are never static and remain subject to the effects of time and interactions with the elements. Through an intensive process of printing and layering, Dariush elevates his subject matter to high art status. The elements that capture his eye, a rock resembling a sculpture for example, protrude and are distinguished through the imposition of colour while the rise and fall of the mountain tops fade into the whiteness of the horizon. Although these scenes may seem like the artist's attempt to distil reality into a singular space, for Dariush, they offer an opportunity to dream. One image captures a moment of transcendence—the dawn when he opened his tent and witnessed the sunrise, capturing the softness of rising light emerging from the space between the rocks; an earthly event that feels otherworldly. For Dariush, such a moment is a dream relived through his portraits.
Rand Al Hadethi, Harsh Inhibitors, 2023
Rand’s poetry responds to Dariush's landscapes and summons personal memories.
She subtly questions enduring colonial standards and visual hierarchies relating to the natural environment. Instead of embracing grand narratives, she turns her gaze inward, contemplating her own encounters with friends and family resisting connection with the immediate terrain:
In the majority of the year's span, cruelty reigns.
Perhaps a December hike in Hatta,
maybe a campsite in Al-Qudra,
yet never roots enduring July's scorch.
Significance confined within a breathable coffin,
a slender thread nourishing itself
until it starves, momentarily invisible—
seconds, minutes, days, months, years...
perhaps even centuries.
All crops, in the end, become corpses.
The poet speaks of the harshness and opposing forces that may hinder engagement with the local land. Still, she also voices a longing to reclaim and reestablish a connection with the immediate habitat. She challenges the observer to ponder: How do Euro-centric standards shape our priorities, privileging one manifestation of nature over another? How do we preserve memories of nature when distanced from its embrace?
Weaving A Dreamscape
Dreamscape is a sensory journey that traverses the space between reality and dreams, waking life and the subconscious, the enduring and the irretrievably lost. The collective collaborated to establish an enclosed space, signaling a departure from the outside world as one crosses the threshold into a new, dream-like realm. Inside, multidisciplinary, site-specific works by Shaqayeq and Hind invite introspection, reconnecting us with our origins and our inherent ties to the land.
Much like the layer of separation from reality experienced during a dream, light, sound, textural, and visual elements melt into one another distorting perception and inducing a sense of amnesia, evoking the loss of the land.
Shaqayeq Arabi, Untitled Series, 2023
Shaqayeq transforms discarded objects, destined for oblivion, into ethereal sculptural works suspended from the sky. Her practice melds intuition with a profound connection to the earth; she gathers and preserves items that catch her eye until the right moment when synergy reveals itself between elements.
The objects she salvages from the local community, such as fishing nets and the plastic bags used to catch falling dates from the neighbourhood's trees, carry the imprint of their context, narrating stories to the inhabitants of the area. Shaqayeq weaves these industrial elements together with twigs and sprigs of plant life. Each of these elements possesses its own life span, provoking contemplation on the fragility of our existence, the cycles of creation, and the intricate relationship between humanity and its habitat.
These gravity-defying works establish tension between opposing forces, accentuating humanity's essential connection with the earth and reminding us of our origin and the need for respect and return.
Hind bin Demaithan, Ma’bain’albainain, 2023
Shaqayeq's sculptures intertwine with visual artist Hind's video installation, Ma’bain’albainain, 2023. The work’s title translates from Arabic to: “the space in between” and speaks of the liminal space summoned by the artist through film, sound and immersive installation.
A looping video projection casts a montage of found images into the space. The textures and tones of the region’s land surfaces are filtered and distorted so they appear hazy, just out of grasp of comprehension. These scenes dissolve into draped fabric offering a sense of the flickering of light and shade, experienced as one moves through the forest. Hind’s habitat invites viewers to traverse and connect to the space, forging an intimate relationship with it.
Carolina Cortesi and Ksenia Klubova, Untitled Performance, 2023
Site-specific performances, choreographed by contemporary dancer Carolina Cortesi and performed in collaboration with Ksenia Klubova, form a visceral response to the habitat.
The fusion of the Dreamscape environment, the performers' own physicality and the release of their kinetic energy transcends conventional notions of time and space. The two figures represent emotionally opposed beings—one adorned with a crown of twigs, dressed in black, empowered and embodying a strong connection to the Earth; the other wrapped in fabric so light it feels as though it might float away, suggesting fragility and vulnerability. The ebbs and flows of their entanglement speak of shifting emotional states and new possibilities for unity between living beings and the natural world. The performance culminates in an embrace upon the Earth’s surface, symbolising the culmination of this ritual of transformation. The pair affirms to us, as the others within this Collective have done, that the source of our fundamental energy and life force continues to rise from the Earth.