New art installations at DUCTAC

Two artists unveil their new permanent works at the culture hub


Two artists tasked with creating permanent artworks for DUCTAC talk about their creations.

Two bright young stars have been handed the sort of project most artists dream of. They’ve been given carte blanche to produce artworks that will be permanently showcased at the Dubai art hub, DUCTAC. The works will be unveiled on November 3, but if you happen to have been immersing yourself in DUCTAC’s extensive cultural programme over the past few weeks you will have seen Vikram Divecha and Carla Mercedes in action.

Talking about the works, Divecha, an intense and thoughtful character based in Dubai, divulges that he is working on a very large space- specific sculpture based on the theme of construction. The size of which alone means that he will be enlisting help from ten-12 professionals to achieve his vision during the project.

Divecha was born in Beirut but spent his formative years in Bombay. Having relocated to Dubai in 2005, he was struck by the contrasts between the two cities. ‘I am coming to terms with the fact that urbanisation is something that I’m going to have to deal with and that largely my life will be nestled within a concrete environmental. Whatever existential questions I’m going to ask about life will be set against the context of concrete.’

While Divecha’s relationship with the city is wholly personal, he also believes that many of the wider ideas and themes are universal, which most people who have experienced urban environments can relate to.

In the past, Divecha has created large artworks of lifesize broken-road surfaces and his fascination with urban materials is as scientific as it is thematic. For his Urban Epidermis exhibition, as he doesn’t have his own studio, Divecha went out and met experts, who eventually allowed him to use their factory space in Jebel Ali. It’s no different for his latest project – where in this case he will be utilising the expertise of a factory in Al Quoz. When I ask him why he thinks people are so cooperative, he simply says: ‘There’s someone in the office who does the same job every day and in comes this random guy taking a completely different angle.’
In contrast, Berlin-based artist Carla Mercedes heard about the project, called Co.mmission, from a friend. She applied and succeeded and is now working on a piece funded by the Goethe Institute.

Her artwork will be a painting on plexi glass, which is based on her exploration of Dubai. Mercedes says she is certainly fascinated by the contrasts in the city, between the sparkling attractions of Downtown, compared to the low rise, sand-coloured architecture of Umm Suqeim. Mercedes is also interested in the beat of Dubai and how difficult it is to explore on foot in comparison to Berlin or Istanbul and the impact this has on the actual speed that people travel between different areas. Mercedes, who will be working with a mixture of acrylic and spray paint that creates a translucent material, says she is ‘hoping to create a piece which represents her interpretation of the different areas and structures of Dubai’. And she wants to see as much of the metropolis as she can in the remaining two weeks.
To see more of Mercedes’ work, visit

The Lowdown

Exhibition: Co.mission will be unveiled on November 3 at DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 4777).
Artists: Vikram Divecha and Carla Mercedes

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