Abu Dhabi Art, Crude Memory: Almaha Jaralla

22 - 26 November 2023

Abu Dhabi-based Emirati visual artist, Almaha Jaralla (b. 1996) works between installation art, painting and photography, reflecting on the history of the UAE and the Gulf, with emphasis on local architecture – between vernacular and postmodern forms. Her new installation Crude Memory presents an (almost) fictional reenactment of the emblematic Al-Ruwais location near Abu Dhabi. The 1970-1980s architecture and housing presents a utopian experience of petro-modernity and urban culture one that leaves preposterous and ghostly traces in our present.
As in a science-fictional movie or an archaeological site, one loses sense of the spatial and temporal borders defining our past, present and future. The border between private and public space, personal and collective memory, also dissolves in front of us between sculptural and photographic elements. Through Jaralla’s painting work, the intimate and domestic space alludes to the epic narrative of the oil industry and its economic quest and radiant landscapes. Suggesting an abandoned territory, close to become ruins, the overall installation translates a sense of nostalgia. The remnants of plants and gardens play the role of a possible but fragile belonging, or how nature can survive the industrial and architectural ruins.

My research negotiates the local architectural vernacular. I understand constructed environments as highly personal portraits. I am preoccupied with the dualities of the public/private and the standards, functions and aesthetic qualities that contribute to the local homes that I encounter every day.

Curated by Morad Montazami