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Second Life

January 2021



Second Life is a group exhibition bringing together artworks and installations that explore the act of repurposing objects and materials and question the meaning of natural transformations in a life cycle while addressing environmental consciousness, preservation, and sustainability. The showcased artworks represent an invitation to experience our surrounding spaces with a new perspective, imagining various purposes to the forms that surround us, being functional or abstract, an object or a space, a plant or a building.  


Artists, designers and architects have come together with varied installations and designed objects of various mediums and sizes thoughtfully displayed throughout the new space of Total Arts, a former furniture store transformed into an art gallery, impeccably marking the second life of the actual space. The theme of the exhibition resonates with the meticulously renovated space, which captured the unique architectural essence of the former space to emphasize on the importance of preservation and collective memory, once again inviting the visitor to reflect on the meaning of repurposing a space.


Some of the art installations reflect the artist’s connection to natural resources and life forms among them Murmur, a light installation by the designer Grace Yacoub, who worked with locally found tree branches to emphasize on the importance of repurposing but also preserving native trees in the UAE. 

Shahad Shehail and Hala Kaiksow use woven palm ropes, crochet, and date pits in their respective installations Renewal and Phalm, celebrating date palms, and their symbolic meaning in the cultural and historical identity of the Gulf Region.

Shaqayeq Arabi’s site-specific installation And there were Gardens… represents an imaginary landscape made out of actual fragments from the artist’s immediate environment as well as remains of plant life from The Courtyard’s garden which is home to Total Arts and the artist’s studio.

From real plants fragments to abstract representation of flora and fauna, natural geometries emerge from Michael Rice’s ceramics, Fereydoun Ave’s paintings from the ongoing series Bitterness of the Old Age, Autumn 2020, celebrate a holistic practice that represents the energy of seasonal cycles. 

Artist and sculptor Yasmin Sinai explores the transformation process of a caterpillar through paper-mache sculptures; her installation Metamorphosis can be seen as an analogy to spiritual transformations that humans go through.

The exhibition creates dialogues between the artworks and the actual space; artists Hessa Al Suwaidi and Rashed Qurwash embrace this relationship in an experimental installation of pattern mapping and folding based on extracted patterns from the exhibition space mixed with natural dyes and textiles.


Dariush Zandi’s dramatic black and white photographs of dhows shot in 1983 are displayed on the second floor as an extension of the majestic boat installation, Sinking Ships ironically displayed on top of the existing water fountain, across the ground floor entrance. A haunting memory of what once was, subsequent retrieval and preservation of functional objects discarded or forgotten.

Playing with the architectural features of the space, Hind Bin Demiathan’s video installation I am she who I was or will be uses the mashrabiya window frame to integrate her installation and thus, create an interaction between the visitor and the space.

Through her photographic installation The seven lives of Beit Beirut, architect Diane Mehanna explores the meaning of a place of memory (ies) in the context of Beirut. In her artwork composed of seven framed photo-collage prints, she reflects on the multiple lives of a Beiruti building, questioning the repercussions of intended or unintended architectural transformations on the purpose of a place. 


The exhibition is in collaboration with Hamzat Wasl Studio , a design studio based at the Courtyard.

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