The latest charity project from locally based photographer Sertac Tasdelen (pictured above) proves that the art community in Dubai is well and truly alive. ‘The Andy Warhol of 2020 is going to speak Arabic,’ says Tasdelen with the signature confidence of a man in a well-tailored suit (the Clark Gable of art, he is a management consultant by day, a photo artist by night). ‘There was an exponential burst of energy in the West hundreds of years ago, but it’s happening here right now. Anyone who says there isn’t an art community in Dubai just isn’t looking.’
Tasdelen’s new project, ‘Résurrection des Mannequins’ (named after Man Ray’s 1938 exhibition, where surrealist artists reincarnated mannequins), brings together an impressive list of artists and art lovers, all of whom were given free rein to imprint their identity onto one of Tasdelen’s images. He told each one about the concept behind the initial photos (which involve two female models and two mannequins) and how they chronicle the many faces of one person’s identity.
‘Art comes from experience,’ he says. ‘I’m a businessman and an artist: these are all personas I wear, and that’s not deceptive. Interacting with the different psychologies of yourself enriches you. Moving to Dubai is like jumping into an ocean of identities: these works remind you to be yourself and be happy with the mask you wear, but they also criticise people who wear one all the time.’
The results? There are moments of brilliance – no surprise considering the line-up: Lateefa Bint Maktoum, Lamya Gargash, Gita Meh, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Rami Farook and Sonia Brewin, among others. ‘These are the people that raised Dubai’s art world,’ explains Tasdelen. Proceeds go to the charity of the collaborator’s choice (most are local causes). The proceeds from Bint Maktoum’s work will go to the
Al Noor Association for the Blind.
‘We’re not just giving the proceeds to charity,’ says Tasdelen. ‘We’re coming together as a movement for change. This is true collaboration: these are not my works touched by others, but rather our works.’ We’re impressed: Dubai’s art scene is trod on by many a haughty critic, but this is art for good, and it’s good art too.
‘Resurrection des Mannequins’ continues at Portfolio Gallery until May 31.