Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Quite a lot of controversy and publicity has surrounded this Frank Gehry designed structure in the upcoming cultural district in Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island.

Led by Lebanese artist Walid Raad, over 130 artists, curators and writers who have been commissioned to contribute their works and efforts to the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, have threatened to boycott the museum in March earlier this year, in an attempt to put pressure to improve builders' working conditions.

The Guggenheim Foundation has already issued a statement responding to the boycott, guaranteeing that it will ensure a close monitoring of these workers' rights through out, alongside their partners, TDIC. This follows a critical report on workers' conditions by Human Rights Watch, which the foundation has called out as "painting an inaccurate picture" of the current situation.

While I do agree that it is a very positive project for the entire region, I am quite supportive and impressed by the artists' smart PR stunt easy claim to fame initiative - highlighting a widely prevalent issue in the Gulf at the risk of losing jobs or future opportunities.

Also of concern is the content of the museum - the Guggenheim Foundation, a brand well-known for its quite contemporary and post-modern view on art, poses the question - will it just be a cookie-cutter version of the NY/LA one, including content?

And more significantly, does the region hold the content and artists to fill it in on time?

Doha's Mathaf Modern definitely hasn't disappointed, especially with its first exhibition Told/Untold/Retold, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. (Post on this coming up soon)

Still, very much looking forward to the opening - due for completion in 2012.


Coral Reef

"He wants you to feel lost in a world of lost people" - Coral Reef by Mike Nelson

(Before I start, I feel like I've lost all sense of writing so forgive me if I don't do this justice. Neither do the pictures.. Why are you reading this anyhoo?)

Late last year, I had the great privilege of exploring Tate Gallery's (only) interesting exhibition with a very good friend, CHELSEA space mate Maya Ramsay, who also happens to be a very talented artist and winner of the Florence Trust Residency. Not only is she very talented, she handles the most fascinating projects, including renovating once deserted buildings without changing their aesthetics completely, whilst maintaining the beautiful elements of destruction (apologize for the very pathetic explanation of her work: better yet, let her explain it and show it to you here.)

This bunch of empty rooms with leftover furniture maze installation by Mike Nelson, first conceived and presented in 2000: imagine entering a maze that starts and ends with an identical room, in this case a deserted Islamic Center - kind of like a horror / psycho thriller.

The details in this place are perfected and well-concocted to the core. Each smell (from dust to garbage, to wood, to this desert feeling), texture, colours, piece of dust / trash is orchestrated to the TEE. You can FEEL the sense of emptiness, creepiness, melancholy and somewhat irrational fear.

The details, smells, props in each room of the maze are creepy yet magical. Like a scene or shot from a 90's Quentin Tarantino movie.

Difficult to escape from, multiple doors, all leading to different walkways, different rooms, sometimes identical, sometimes not.

P.S. To some, this is just trash in a few rooms. To me, they are gems.