David Mach has made a name for himself for large-scale public art works, from a Polaris submarine made of tyres on London’s Southbank to a gorilla made from coathangers. After assembling one of his unique collages in Mall of Emirates last year, using tourist postcards of Dubai, Mach is now exhibiting the final piece and more of these creations in Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre. Time Out battled with his deep Scottish accent to find out more.
Are these works that celebrate Dubai?
They’re my reaction to the place, really. When I told people that I was coming here, all people could say was ‘oh it’s tacky, it’s transient’. They said I wouldn’t like it, but I do. I like the gung-ho-ness of the place, it’s an unstoppable thing. There’s this Klondike goldrush atmosphere to the place, and I like that. In Europe, there’s such a negative attitude to a lot of things, while the rest of the world, like here and India and China, thinks: If we work hard, we’ll make it better. I’m aware of all the discrepancies between the people who have money and the people who are actually building the place. I’m totally aware of that, but there’s an idea of, ‘we’ve got the money and we’re going to spend it’. I’ve tried to show my reaction in these works.
You’ve picked out the Burj Al Arab and Sheikh Zayed Road to form these images. What do you like about the buildings themselves?
A lot of people discredit the buildings as ferociously ugly, but I quite like some of the stuff. People say they don’t have taste here, but of course they do. Just not the same taste as you. I really want to see something that makes my heart beat faster, and this place does it.
In the images that these form into, we see a lot of affronting, veiled faces. What attracted you to these images?
I’m interested in the personal. I like to think about how people present themselves to you. It’s to do with being human, an individual. I like that most of all, I like the idea of an individual surviving in a place like this. It’s hard anywhere in the world, we’re bombarded with things that turn us into numbers. We may hide things for different reasons; there may be a traditional, political aspect, but what we hide is also a way of expressing some individuality. It fascinates me.
Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (04 341 4777), Mall of Emirates. Until October 29