Traffic’s old incarnation in Al Barsha was where creative types went to find avant-garde industrial design. Yet today, the new space in Al Quoz is all about art. The wonderfully echoic warehouse encloses a wide range of contemporary art, from the commercial to the truly up-and-coming.
The gallery’s first two shows are well worth seeing. In the back gallery is artist Hesam Rahmanian’s chaotic painterly explorations of the state of Iran today, entitled ‘Hit Me With Your War Tune’, while the front gallery houses pieces from Traffic owner Rami Farook’s private stash. Entitled ‘The State’, it explores the world through diverse, goose bump-inducing pieces. It’s hard to define Rami’s exhibition by geography or genre, but all the works explore the state of the post-9/11 world. This, according to Rami, is Traffic’s new mantra.
Hit Me With Your War Tune
Highlights: The artist’s fearless reappropriation of Iranian iconography.
Hesam Rahmanian, 30, Iranian
My art is… A documentation of the current pop culture in Iran.
Iran is… A place I don’t feel at home any more. I call a place home if I can have a dialogue there, and that’s not Iran. I do have family there, but I don’t feel comfortable with where it’s going.
My home is… Dubai. But I consider myself a citizen of the world [he has lived in Iran, India, the US and UAE].
The title of my exhibition is… Inspired by the political entertainment that people in Iran are consuming. This new pop culture is very sarcastic and it feeds people political information. but also entertains.
My favourite artists are… David Hockney and Francis Bacon, whose works I grew up with. I also like street artists because they take risks.
Painting is… A passion for me, but its job is to provoke, document and bring awareness. If it’s just for beauty, then it’s just decorative.
My most controversial work is… Any painting with a mullah in it, because they’re religious figures. I’m not depicting them to say anything about religion, but to say they should educate people about religion and not run the country.
My next move is… More conceptual. It’s not going to involve paint.
Hit Me With Your War Tune continues at Traffic Gallery II until December 30
Highlights: Mounir Fatmi’s moving installation on 9/11, Andrei Molodkin’s crude oil-filled sculpture that explores democracy, and the overall quality of the whole exhibition.
Rami Farook, 29, Emirati
Traffic is… A space to educate about and share art. Dubai’s art scene is… Hungry.
Collecting art is… A documentation of a period of time.
Curating a show is… A lot of fun. This is only the second I’ve curated – the first was in Berlin in June.
My favourite piece is… ‘Save Manhattan’ [left]. After I installed it, it really stood out. It hits both the visual and aural sense [the carefully composed installation of stereos by Mounir Fatmi mimics the Manhattan skyline pre-9/11, while also playing an eerie, looped soundtrack]. I see this piece as the starting point of the show as well, because it’s all about the state of the world post September 11, and that piece is September 11.
My favourite artist is… Andy Warhol. He managed to take a simple medium and create a movement out of it. He helped a lot of artists and he documented a time very well – when you hear ‘pop’, you think of him.
The state of the world today is… Unpredictable.
Art is… Freedom.
The State continues at Traffic Gallery I until January 22