Concrete was created in Alserkal as a space for museum-standard exhibitions. Most of the time it’s basically another general-purpose events location for Dubai; but as the Atassi Foundation show Syria: Into the Light demonstrated a year ago, Concrete really does come into its own when it’s given a big, important show to house.
That cetainly dscribes Adapt to Survive: Notes from the Future. The second international collaboration for the Alserkal Avenue display space sees this Hayward Gallery group show by seven artists travelling from London to Dubai for exhibition from 7 to 21 November.
Adapt to Survive imagines nothing less than how our world might look and feel in the future. The seven artists are making educated guesses about our society’s evolution and progression, while equally conveying uncertainty and scepticism about our accelerating patterns of growth and consumption. The theme is predicatble enough; the curation shows that the artists’ response to it is anything but quotidien.
Ann Lislegaard: Time Machine (2011, right) The glitchy monologue spoken by Lislegaard’s computer-animated fox consists of quotes from HG Wells’s pioneering SF novel of 1895 Time Machine. The fox’s voice and the narrative it attempts to tell appears to be on the edge of breaking down or falling apart, while in the creature’s crazed expression suggests that the future is just as flawed as the present.
Rainer Ganahl: I Hate Karl Marx (2010) Set in the year 2045, Rainer Ganahl’s deliberately provocative short film seeks to address western xenophobia and forms part of the artist’s ongoing engagement with non-western cultures. It presents a young German woman struggling to accept a world in which China is the dominant political and economic power, most countries are communist, and everyone speaks Chinese.
Julian Charrière: Metamorphism (2016) Resembling a cabinet of geological samples in museum-style vitrines, Charrière’s sculptural series explores our relationship to the planet’s natural resources – specifically minerals extracted for use in electronics. Metamorphism imagines what our world might look like many millennia in the future, when the products that characterise our era have been re-incorporated into the Earth’s strata; it was created from molten rock poured over broken consumer electronics with a chemical wash applied to the cooled forms to simulate the effects of acid rain.
Andreas Angelidakis: Walking Building (2006, top) Responding to the needs of today’s mobile, digitally-connected artists, this video proposal for the contemporary art museum of the future provides a shape-shifting structure that adapts to different environments and needs. The ‘hybrid hyper-building’ comes alive, crawling like an animal through the streets of Athens.
Youmna Chlala: The Butterfly Already Exists in the Caterpillar Through a combination of text and image Youmna Chlala evokes a city in flux – a place of rising sea levels, where seasons have ceased to exist and the remaining inhabitants have forged new ways to live.
Marguerite Humeau: Harry II (2017, right) Humeau’s work explores contemporary manifestations of ancient myths, including the figure of the Sphinx. Harry II is an exploration of modern sphinxes: online security, border control and surveillance – anti-climb ‘raptor’ fencing is cast in artificial human skin; plastic vessels hold artificial blood; and a three-faced winged beast emits a low hum reminiscent of a heartbeat, or remote aerial warfare.
Bedwyr Williams: Tyrrau Mawr (2016, below) Williams presents a vision of an imaginary megacity in North Wales in the form of a high-definition digital matte painting, the technique used in filmmaking to create complex scenic backdrops. In a narrative voiceover, Williams gives us a series of vignettes that provide glimpses into ordinary lives led within this new metropolis.
Adapt to Survive: Notes from the Future is curated by Dr Cliff Lauson, Senior Curator at the Hayward. He said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Concrete at Alserkal Avenue for the first time, on an exhibition that takes a timely and imaginative look at the future of our civilisation”.