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The Dock Visual Arts Commission Bassam Al-Sabah

Sun 10 May - Fri 31 July, 9:30pm

The Dock Visual Arts Commission

About ​Bassam Al-Sabah

Bassam Al-Sabah lives and works in Belfast and Dublin. He gained a BA in Visual Art Practice from Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2016 and was awarded the RHA Graduate Studio Award (2016-2017) and the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios Graduate Residency Award (2018-2019). Recent solo exhibitions include Dissolving Beyond the Worm Moon, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (2019); Illusions of Love Dyed by Sunset, The LAB, Dublin (2018); and The dust carried me into the watchful summer, Eight Gallery, Dublin (2017). Recent group exhibitions include Pallas Periodical Review, Pallas Projects, Dublin; Futures, Series 3, Episode 2, Royal Hibernian Acadamy, Dublin; Syntonic State, Tulca 18, Galway; and Drop Everything, Aras Eanna Arts Centre, Inisheer (all 2018).

Bassam Al-Sabah’s aims to convey visions of war, resistance and perseverance. He utilises a multi-media installation comprising of video, painting, sculpture and printed matter. The work is concerned with how the past is continually revised to meet the present, when the juvenile fantasy breaks down into the reality of adulthood.

The work reference from Arabic dubbed Japanese anime series, which were broadcast across the middle-east from 1980s onwards. Tackling themes of revolution, war and exile, the work projects political meaning onto these cartoons, which have been connected with a cross generational identity, shared by now adult Arabs. Drawing attention to an ignored point in media globalization: the influence, effects and agendas of Japanese anime on Arab popular culture

Displacement, nostalgia and personal mythology play a significant role within my work as it tries to capture a recollection that is not fixed, but rather an amalgamation of various narratives both false and true that have collapsed into each other causing the sensation of falsified memory and trauma.  To achieve this I have been drawing on the collection of scenes of war and destruction from children’s animations and deconstructing the parallels between fantasy and reality, the hero and the everyday, the make-believe and fact.

About the Bassam commission

I am currently developing a body of work will that will imagine an apocalyptic landscape as a site where reality itself is problematized as a condition which can no longer be counted on to continue. Through the framing of advancements of technologies and their increasing abilities for physical, material and spiritual annihilation the work will question where and how human identity is positioned in the virtual world. Where there once existed the whole and complete human subject, there is now only disjointed and incoherent simulations.

The sculptural work will attempt to construct an abstract impression of longing for intimacy and familiarity. The work will frame intimacy as an innate social need, and as such it can be socially regulated and therefore susceptible to political and legal regulation.

I propose for this commission to produce a series of small 3D printed metal objects. The works will collectively sculpt a constellation of conflicting links and histories. Pulling from popular culture, landscape and historical events, the metal sculptures will be underpinned by an attempt to capture moments of intense encounters with the images and objects.

This work will allow me to bridge a gap in my practice between my CGI film work and my sculptural practice. And allow the works to co-exist together in an amorphous space between the physical real and artificial virtual.

About this commission

The Dock team was looking forward to working with a number of visual artists this year. As a result of the current circumstances, there is a break in our gallery programme. This means that the visual artists we were to work with are now without the opportunity to exhibit. The team here think long and hard about what and who we programme in the galleries, so have decided to invite the artists who are part of the 2020 programme to submit an idea and approach to developing their work during this Covid-19 lockdown. The Dock has framed this as a small commission, to offer the artists encouragement to keep making work and to continue their connection with us and with you the audience. 

We will keep updating this page with images and news and will be posting regularly on our social media channels as work progresses over the next three months.