Brief Histories

Nov. 1, 2011 - Jan. 15, 2011

University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE

BRIEF HISTORIES brings together contemporary works responsive to the unfolding events in the region and the larger global happenings of the day. The show will be momentarily materialized in the intimate setting of a villa in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and subsequently posted online. Diverse participants, from six continents, present photography, moving image, installation, drawing, text, and web-based work. Themes lying within their contributions reflect upon social geography, power and authority, labor and capital, private and public space, and the media. With telepresence of information, temporality has transformed from its traditional linear progression (past, present, future) to a coexistence of past and present–on demand. In this respect new media networks broadcast multitudes of distinct perspectives, which in turn destabilize a definitive narrative. The challenge has become to maintain a critical, artistic, and curatorial practice that is responsive and relevant, and that is capable of keeping its place amongst rapidly changing contexts and shifting meanings. BRIEF HISTORIES is an attempt to address this need for immediacy, by bringing together artists and writers to respond with works that are significant to the context of our present day reality. Fawz Kabra and Isak Berbic

Works Shown


2011, video

In this 49 minute video, Mussafah, the camera takes a journey through the manufacturing zone of Abu Dhabi. Far from the glittering skyscrapers and beaches, Mussafah is the place in Abu Dhabi to fix motors, to bend aluminum, to produce tangible material goods. It is the "back of the shop", literally the place where the advertising signs are printed. Using a slow tracking shot, the McCoy's video allows the eye to take in the details of this environment with all its complexity. It is a work place, yet there are clothes hanging on clotheslines and chickens in the street. It is Arab, yet multinational logos and English signs abound. Its streets are largely devoid of people, yet it operates on 24 hour work shifts. In previous work, the McCoys fabricated post-apocalyptic miniatures to shoot tracking shots of blown out malls. As they have found in Abu Dhabi, the need to create these landscapes from the imagination was unnecessary.