The 16th Lyon Biennale : Hashel Al Lamki

14 September - 31 December 2022

For the Biennale Al Lamki has produced a multidisciplinary body of work, Rodinia, in response to the Lyon Biennale’s ‘manifesto of fragility’, displayed in Lyon’s Musee Guimet (Natural History Museum). 

Rodinia: Rodinia translates from Russian into English as "motherland, birthplace” and was the name given to the Neoproterozoic supercontinent that assembled 1.1–0.9 billion years ago and later dispersed. 


Rodinia forms an opportunity for Al Lamki to think through and synthesise the connectedness that he observes between the earth, its ecosystems and mankind. We are in a moment that bears witness to the Holocene Extinction (sixth Mass Extinction) driven by human activity, as year-upon-year species of plant life and animals become extinct. Through a multidisciplinary body of work that crosses film, works on canvas, and textile installation Al Lamki navigates notions of force and fragility, scale, place and space, life cycles and the passing of time as well as the human experiences of uncertainty and anxiety.


Rodinia is the name of the supercontinent that once covered the surface of the earth in the pre-life period, the context that gave rise to our current existence. In response to the manifesto of Lyon Biennale that foregrounds notions of fragility and complexly layered histories that extend beyond geographies and time, Al Lamki casts his gaze back to the start of time and life to better understand his current context through a multidisciplinary body of work. Rodinia embodies the idea of a vast whole composed of multiple parts. As such, notions of unity and individuality are embodied within the multidisciplinary nature of this body of work. Works enter into dialogue, each enriching and expanding upon the other through multiple mediums and approaches. 


Key Works 

At Musee Guimet visitors can encounter works by Al Lamki including a textile installation, works on canvas, a sculptural piece and multimedia explorations. Selected works include Dice, 2021, a short film that synthesises the artist’s feelings of uncertainty and embodies his attempt to make sense of the patterns and connections that he perceives within the world. The work was commissioned by Abu Dhabi Art in 2021. Dice attempts to unpack and make sense of the connections that Al Lamki perceives between multiple spaces - commerce and commodification, body and mind, media and the social world. The artist maintains that everything around him experiences cycles of rise and fall, tension and release. Dice captures these shifts by establishing a rhythm of tension that builds up and erupts in a crescendo before entering into the cycle once more. These ideas manifest in a variety of examples absorbed from human experiences. 


Extending the sentiments of Dice onto the canvas Al Lamki has also produced a five panel commission for Lyon Biennale. Each panel explores a distinct theme embodied within his film. In an effort to evoke a sense of unity and inclusivity across cultures and geographies each title represents a distinct culture or language. In these five works, Al Lamki connects ecological shifts and synergies in the natural world with real-life scenarios. He reflects upon temporality - the passing of day-to-day time in which nothing much seems to change and in parallel the monumental shifts that occur over millennia rendering the lived environment unrecognisable from era to era. 


Al Lamki has also included Pai Gow a piece produced in collaboration with Hong Kong-based artist Drew Cappotto, crafted in response to Dice.  The video art and immersive sound/music installation form a bridge between the filmic and 2-dimensional works by Al Lamki, providing the viewer with an additional layer of complexity that exists somewhere between the surreal and the knowable. The work employs processed footage and slowly evolving video art as a means of reconstituting its source material into a fluid, living response to Al Lamki’s film and paintings. The piece seeks to reconcile the disparate mediums of the artist’s digital and physical works.