If you have visited Dubai’s maisan15, a cafe-gallery and launchpad for the UAE’s emerging curators, you have heard one too many times the sentence “the menu is on our Instagram.” Saved in their Instagram highlights, one of the city’s most indulged upon menus understands the medium of its crowd. But, what happens when that “Instagram Menu'' gets intervened?
During the months of February and March, visitors of maisan15’s Instagram have been greeted with a commissioned ‘Menu Poem’: Si Escuchas con la Lengua/When You Listen with your Tongue, written by Abu Dhabi-based Cristalina Parra. The Menu Poem is one of the fifteen artworks presented at maisan15 within This Lark Sips at Every Pond: Women as Artist and Muse, curated by Sarah Daher. Featured artists include Aliyah Alawadhi, Amina Yahia, Cristalina Parra, Juletta, Marta Lamovsek, Mashael Alsaie. The exhibition, on view until April 10th, seems to be titled with a mouthful, but that is its point: to introduce us to women pursuing their creative impulses – all of this, while getting our mouths full with a wagyu melt or a mashallah zinger.
Greeting the works in the space, we first encounter Aliyah Alawadhi’s vibrant paintings against maisan’s concrete walls. From what we see, her work elevates women beyond muses: as protagonists, agents, bearers of gaze, and instigators of their rituals, revenges, and glories.
Next to Bitter Herb, we see a video, also by Alawadhi, in which she glitches footage of maisan15 captured in the fall of 2020. Alawadhi is a skilled animator and glitcher herself with a crucial approach to women’s role in that medium. Daher, as the curator, presents the video intending to highlight the wide spectrum of media (painting and video) that one sole artist is able to cover. Nonetheless, this connection is not as straightforward for the labels are not easy to find. The connection might also be counterintuitive since the mediums are rather different. The glitched video feels dissonant with the rest of the space, more as if it is part of maisan15’s in-house collection, than part of This Lark’s exhibition. Yet, the point remains key to know: Alawadhi is not a muse but a master – not of one, but of many mediums.
What is further exciting about the publication and the curatorial context it emerges from, maisan15 in 2021, is that it highlights a more mature art scene with a higher degree of interconnectedness. At Global Art Daily, we are thrilled to see, for example, our long-term collaborator Christopher Benton as a ‘muse’ in one of Marta Lamovsek’s photographs. We see GAD’s Design Intern Amina Yahia showcasing her work for the first time outside of NYU Abu Dhabi. We witness the work of Aliyah Alawadhi, a constant supporter and former speaker in GAD Talk Series. And most importantly, we see a key space in Dubai be activated by Sarah Daher, an emerging curatorial voice and GAD contributor who is proposing new, unprecedented conversations and originally presenting forms of curation to the UAE’s audiences.
Continue reading on Global Art Daily.