The Work of Welcome: Talks on ‘Guest Relations’

Join us for an afternoon of wide ranging talks around the exhibition ‘Guest Relations’, currently on view at Jameel Arts Centre. 

Guest Relations‘ examines the historical, political, social and cultural transformations that accompany processes of intense touristification. Rooted in the context of Dubai, the exhibition highlights social complexities and narrative possibilities beyond projections of luxury and spectacle. It engages with the cultural and historical dimensions of hotels and the hospitality industry. These talks focus on locales and artists beyond the United Arab Emirates, linked by processes of affect, statecraft, and global fluxes of power and labour. These elements collectively shape what we might term ‘the work of welcome‘.

Guest speakers include curator Duygu Demir on the influential Turkish artists Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin focussing on body of work H-Facts Hospitality/Hostility as well as on the work of artist Hale Tenger. Singapore-based Professor and art historian Roger Nelson dissects hotels as sites of labour, politics and statecraft, drawing connections between the paintings of Cambodian artist and hotel worker Svay Ken with those of Singapore-based Hilmi Johandi. Lastly, artist Mati Jhurry explores the work of welcome through the lens of labour, delving into her performance Emirates staff No. 460956. The talks will be followed by a Q&A session and a discussion moderated by Art Jameel curator Lucas Morin.

  • 11:00 am – Optional guided tour of ‘Guest Relations’ with Lucas Morin, Art Jameel
  • 12:00 – 2:00 pm – Lunch break  experience lunch at our on-site restaurant Teible or bring a picnic to be enjoyed at the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park
  • 02:00 pm – Welcome remarks
  • 02:15 pm – Lecture – Duygu Demir, H for Hospitality or Hostility? Notions of enmity in the work of Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin and Hale Tenger
  • 02:45 pm – Lecture – Roger Nelson, Doing, Making, Staging, Converging, Hotels: Notes on Svay Ken and Hilmi Johandi
  • 03:15 pm – Break with refreshments
  • 03:30 pm – Artist talk – Mati Jhurry: Emirates staff No. 460956, in conversation with Lucas Morin, Exhibitions Curator at Art Jameel
  • 04:00 – Speakers in conversation, Q&A with audience 

Open to all. Free to attend. Light refreshments will be provided. This event will be followed by the opening event of ‘Lisan’, a sound-walk by artist Naser Al Sughaiyer, in the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park.

Guest Relations’, curated by Murtaza Vali with Lucas Morin is on display until April 28, 2024. 

Duygu Demir is an art historian and curator. She has recently joined the New York University Abu Dhabi community as the curator of the Art Gallery as well as Research Assistant Professor of Art History. Originally from Turkey, she was a founding member of SALT, a research-based cultural institution in Istanbul. While there, she co-curated several critically acclaimed solo and group exhibitions and accompanying public programs. Demir earned her PhD on late Ottoman and early Republican Turkish Modern Painting from MIT, with funding from both MIT and Harvard University. Prior to joining NYUAD, Demir was Assistant Professor of Art History at Sabancı University in Istanbul. Her academic writing has appeared in Art Margins (2014), Thresholds (2018), both from MIT Press, as well as Art Journal (2019). She also occasionally writes articles and reviews on contemporary art for magazines and online platforms. She has a combined BA degree in Art History and Visual Arts from Columbia University in New York.

Roger Nelson is an art historian, curator and Assistant Professor of Art History in the School of Humanities at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He researches modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia, and is currently working on a book about artistic art histories. He was previously a curator at National Gallery Singapore. He was the 2022 recipient of the A.L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize, and co-editor of the first book-length translation of the artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s writing. He is co-founding co-editor of Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, a scholarly journal published by NUS Press.

Mati Jhurry’s artistic practice concerns the tension between exoticism and the exotified – she engages with narratives of escapism, the images of desire they emanate and the hostilities they might be veiling. Mati explores the labour and politics involved in selling paradise and performing this fantasy. She attempts to grasp the representational machine of the “dream island” and the mechanics of luxury experience employed in the hospitality sector and the wider industry of travel, leisure and wellness. Mati makes art through performance and investigation, and often turns to video, sculpture and collaborative practices in search of new narratives of decolonisation.

Image banner: Svay Ken, Hotel Le Royal, 1994, oil on cotton. Collection of National Gallery Singapore.



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