Maraya Art Centre opens Islamopolitan collective design exhibition
In the presence of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Maraya Art Centre, the innovative contemporary visual arts hub in Sharjah, have unveiled yesterday Islamopolitan, the first of its kind collective design exhibition running through 23 August.
The exhibition was attended by Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director Hamriya freezone Authority, Director Sharjah Airport international freezone and Manal Ataya, Director-General Sharjah Museums Department in addition to an audience of design & art professionals, academics, and interested members of the general public and Co-curated by preeminent designer Khalid Shafar and Maraya Art Centre Manager Giuseppe Moscatello, the show is the first of its kind to bring together work by 23 designers & artists from around the world, inspired by Islam as a design influence.
The term Islamopolitan was coined by the co-curators and combines the words ‘Islam’ and ‘Cosmopolitan’ to define design that reflects a specific locale, while embracing a place’s multicultural demography. The show is the result of an unprecedented open call submission process whereby the co-curators invited both emerging and established artists from all backgrounds and working across mediums to submit work around the collective design exhibition’s theme.
Remarking on the success of Islamopolitan, Maraya Art Centre Manager and exhibition co-curator Giuseppe Moscatello said, “This show opens amidst Sharjah’s festivities for being recognized as 2014 Islamic Cultural Capital. By introducing the public to works of design conceived by designers & artists identifying with 12 nationalities, we hope to celebrate the beauty of multiculturalism that takes place in the UAE and throughout the Islamic world.”
Moscatello went on to comment, “We had a great opportunity to work with a number of students and emerging designers and UAE-based artists in addition to well-established international names. One of our objectives was to support designers & artists through the production process with specially commissioned projects, and we found this aspect of mentoring the region’s next generation of designers to hold particular meaning.”
Offering his perspective on the technical side of the exhibition, co-curator Khalid Shafar stated, “It was a tremendous honour to work with and exchange ideas with these gifted designers. Although the participants and co-curators come from a rainbow of backgrounds, we were all brought together with the common goal of generating Islam-inspired design solutions that could make a real impact.”
Following an intensive selection process, the co-curators ultimately selected some 25 strong works that span the mediums offurniture design, jewelry, photography, video, art installation, object design, tapestry, wallpaper, fashion design, pottery, and sound installation. A great variety of materials are involved in the selected designs and include organically sourced wood as well as manmade materials like paper, woven fabrics, mosaics, and even plastic. The designers represent some 12 countries including: The United Arab Emirates, The United States of America, The United Kingdom, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, France, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, and South Africa.
The exhibition has been deliberately laid out to reference a spiritual and geographical journey, with visitors following a marked path among displays, set to a haunting digital sound installation, Sout, by Zahed Sultan. Of note are four specially commissioned projects designed by Abdul Aziz Al Harbi, Al Twaf/The Path, Sharjah Octagon- Chandelier by American University of Sharjah students Felix Beck and Paul Bantey, in collaboration with their professor, Zlatan Filipovic.
Some of the works of the exhibition incorporated Al Twaf, a light installation designed by Abdul Aziz Al Harbi, which is inspired by circumambulations of pilgrims around Al Ka’aba in the holy city of Makkah. Amal’s chair, by Sarah Al Agroobi, The Predicament, by Amal Haliq, Ammer Al Dour and Jozef Hendricks, El Sajjadah an illuminating prayer mat by Turkish artist Soner Ozenc is a clever electric prayer mat that is equal parts functional design and visual art.
The full list of designers & artists also includes: Somaya Abdulghani, Momen Mushtaha, Sarah Al Agroobi, Razan Basim, Benjamin Testa, Jamal Tayara-Baroudy, Ali Al-Sammaraie, Azra Askamija, Nadine Kanso, Ammar Al Attar, Brian Doug, Hazem Mahdy, Mahwish Ehsan, Reham Shalash, Saddek Wassil, Shuruq Nahhas, Zarah Hussain, Amer Aldour, Amal Haliq, Jozef Hendricks.
In addition to being aesthetically engaging designs that are inspired by Islamic values, rituals, architecture, and achievement, the exhibition’s individual works are also examples of design with a purpose. The co-curators anticipate that many of the pieces will also provide new and innovative solutions that will improve the daily lives of people residing in Islamic societies and communities around the world.
Islamopolitan runs at Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah through 23 August and admission to the group exhibition is free of charge and open to all members of the public,
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