A lesson in art

Ever visited a gallery and wondered what you were looking at?

Farshid Larimian
Farshid Larimian
Anahita Razmi
Anahita Razmi
Florian Hafele
Florian Hafele
Mathias Garnitschnig
Mathias Garnitschnig

The way in which a gallery chooses to display its art says a lot about the degree of thought it aims to encourage from the people who walk through its doors. Some studios simply hang their art with a title; others give a little more insight into the artistic process. Then there are those galleries that prefer to keep their cards close to their chest, offering little or no guidance, leaving it up to the viewer to reach their own conclusions.

Learning to develop your own interpretations is a concept that Al Quoz gallery Carbon 12 seems eager to promote. So it’s appropriate that the gallery’s new exhibition, ‘Division by Zero’, urges us to step out of our comfort zone, with themes such as crossing borders and exploring what is fact and fiction. If you’re new to the scene, this is the type of exhibition that could leave you a little bewildered. To keep you in the know, here’s a heads up on what to expect from some of the artists.

1 Farshid Larimian

What does his art look like?
A minimalist marker-pen drawing on foam boards

Unlike the other pieces in this exhibition, Iranian artist Larimian’s artwork, entitled ‘I Saw It. I Walked Up the Stairs and Opened the Door’, is hung so the top half of the drawing is exposed to the light coming through the entrance of the gallery. This positioning immediately puts the image into context, as gallery owner Kourosh Nouri explains. ‘The interesting thing here is that the central element is carved and covered at the back with a black fabric. This allows the sunlight to filter through the work as a halo of light, as if to suggest “the light at the end of the tunnel”.’

2 Anahita Razmi

What does her art look like?
A monochrome video installation

Iranian artist Razmi’s work has a satirical edge and brings some comic relief to the exhibition – her video, ‘How Your Veil Can Help You in Case of an Earthquake (Lesson 1-8)’, will get you thinking (and giggling). The video, a step-by-step demonstration on how to protect yourself from an earthquake using a woman’s traditional Muslim robe, known as a chador, is a daring and empowering look at the way in which lines can be blurred and objects can take on new meanings. Some of the steps suggest wrapping the piece around your head as a helmet, tying a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood, extinguishing a fire or covering the dead. Razmi’s second work in the exhibition, ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’, is a photographic print that was created in response to a series of US propaganda photographs of the ’50s in which women posed with nuclear accessories.

3 Florian Hafele

What does his art look like?
Sculptures made out of plastic, wood and paint

Tricky to decipher when you first lay eyes on them, the ‘Social Panopticum’ sculptures by Austrian artist Hafele focus on the observation of the body, and pose questions about the emphasis placed on performance within our achievement-oriented society. Each of the men appear to be dressed according to status or profession. Sit here long enough and the contexts are endless.

4 Mathias Garnitschnig

What does his art look like?
Faceless acrylic works on paper

Although traditionally a sculptor, Austrian artist Garnitschnig also has an acrylic series on show here, inviting people to look at objects in a new way. The faceless paintings of suited men have a Mad Men vibe, and his sculptures, such as a box with elbows sticking out of it, titled ‘Handle With Care’, are at first mind-boggling. Garnitschnig says, ‘I want to make the empty space visible. I use the shape of everyday objects in an untypical way or context, with the intention of making people think. I work with things such as newspapers, magazines and objects that people don’t even “see” any more. By adding or changing a little detail, unusual combinations, new colours and structures, people have to look at an object more carefully.’

The lowdown

Exhibition: ‘Division by Zero’ until September 15 (appointment only until Aug 26), Carbon 12, Al Quoz (050 387 2520).
Artists: Farshid Larimian (Iran), Anahita Razmi (Iran), Florian Hafele (Austria), Mathias Garnitschnig (Austria) and Aamir Habib (Pakistan).
Price range of works: Dhs9,200 to Dhs18,370.

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