Bringing together 17 artists and collectives from the region and beyond, ‘Crude‘ explores oil as an agent of social, cultural and economic transformation across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a driver of geo-political upheaval. Oil has been a trigger for misguided colonial adventures, wars and coups; a catalyst for nation building, modernisation and development; and a cause of terrible ecological disasters. Oil, and its attendant industries and economies, has produced a spectrum of representations—architectures and infrastructures, documents and records, plans and photographs, and image and artifacts—that bring alive these complex histories. Much of the historical material lies buried in various national, corporate and media archives.
This exhibition features the works of contemporary artists that engage with the oil industry’s murky archives and histories, narrating an alternate and episodic material history of modernity in the region. The exhibition also includes works that reflect on some of the specific technologies and materialities that oil has enabled—from drills bits and automobiles to synthetic petroleum products—and their longstanding sociological, cultural and environmental effects across the region.
Artists include: Latif Al Ani, Manal AlDowayan, Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck, Media Farzin, GCC (Khalid Al Gharaballi, Nanu Al-Hamad, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Fatima Al Qadiri, Aziz Al Qatimi, Barrak Alzaid, Amal Khalaf), Raja’a Khalid, Lydia Ourahmane, Houshang Pezeshknia, Monira Al Qadiri, Hassan Sharif, Wael Shawky, Nasrin Tabatabai and Babak Afrassiabi, Rayyane Tabet, Hajra Waheed, Michael John Whelan, Lantian Xie and Ala Younis.
‘Crude’ is curated by the UAE- and USA-based curator and writer Murtaza Vali.
Murtaza Vali is an independent critic and curator based in the UAE and USA, and Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. A recipient of a 2011 Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, he regularly contributes to international art periodicals and publications, including the book accompanying the U.A.E. National Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. Curator of the 2013 Abraaj Group Art Prize, other recent curatorial projects include: ‘Mohammed Kazem: Ways of Marking’ (Aicon Gallery, 2018), ‘Vikram Divecha: Minor Work’ (Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, 2017), ‘Accented’ (Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, 2015), ‘Geometries of Difference: New Approaches to Abstraction and Ornament’ (Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, 2015), and ‘Brute Ornament: Kamrooz Aram and Seher Shah’ (Green Art Gallery, Dubai, 2012). He is a Lead Tutor of Campus Art Dubai 7.0 and a member of Art Jameel’s Curatorial Council.
Read the full artist’s biographies here.