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Tue, 05 Sep


Dubai Festival City Mall

The Role of Art in Public Spaces: Shopping Malls, Social Interactions, and Digital Activations

Artist Talk with Shoei Matsuda

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The Role of Art in Public Spaces: Shopping Malls, Social Interactions, and Digital Activations
The Role of Art in Public Spaces: Shopping Malls, Social Interactions, and Digital Activations

Time & Location

05 Sep 2023, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Dubai Festival City Mall, Crescent Rd - مدينة مهرجان دبي - دبي فيستيفال سيتي - دبي - United Arab Emirates

About the event

Celebrating the inauguration of Japanese artist Shoei Matsuda’s massive installation The Big Flat Now at Dubai Festival City Mall, this Artist Talk is a cross-cultural dialogue that aims to highlight the role of authenticity and participation of public artworks in the UAE, zooming into the local context of shopping malls in Dubai. While the artist will offer insights into his digital art practice and the historical impact of Japanese emojis, the discussion will also provide the perspectives of Emirati researcher Rana AlMutawa on the social functions of shopping malls within Emirati populations.  The discussion will be moderated by Sophie Mayuko Arni, curator of The Big Flat Now and founder of Global Art Daily Agency, and will end with reflections on Dubai’s ability to attract viral social media content and the role of contemporary art in public urban spaces.  This talk is open to the public.


  • Shōei Matsuda (Artist)

Shōei Matsuda (b.1986, Japan) is a post-internet artist based in Tokyo, Japan. Through his installations, sculptures, prints, and videos, Matsuda's work explores themes centering around technology, social media, and celebrity economies. He began his career in social media in 2010, garnering attention in Japan as an anonymous artist with an active Twitter newsfeed account. After moving to Berlin in 2014, he became active with collaborative events, instructions, and performances, questioning subjectivity and authorship of the post-social media era and creating new communities by directly intervening in cities and society.

His work has been exhibited both in Japan and internationally, including in Austria, Germany, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic. Some of his notable solo exhibitions include "The Store" at Shibuya PARCO, Tokyo, "Extreme Conceptual" at Eukaryote, Tokyo, and "Magic Number" at TOH, Tokyo. Shōei has also participated in group exhibitions such as "It knows: When Forms Become Mind" at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan and "ATAMI ART GRANT" at Hotel ACAO in Atami, Japan. In 2016, Shōei received the Prix Ars Electronica Awards of Distinction and was selected for the ISEA Hong Kong. He has also authored works such as "A Field Guide to the Snowden Files" in Germany and "Cyberarts 2016" in Austria.

  • Rana Khalid AlMutawa (Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, NYU Abu Dhabi)

Rana Khalid AlMutawa completed her doctoral training at the University of Oxford in 2021. Her thesis, which she is currently working on as a book project, is an urban ethnography of middle-class citizens and long-term residents in Dubai. It explores discourses of authenticity that circulate about “spectacular” cities such as Dubai and the forms of belonging and agency that take place in these settings. In particular, she is interested in interrogating the way narratives of certain geographies’ “(in)authenticity” and “superficiality” are often linked to performances of social distinction; in the forms of belonging taking place in “spectacular” spaces that are often dismissed as alienating; and in the intersectional forms of exclusion happening in these settings.

Prior to being at Oxford, Rana worked as an instructor and researcher at Zayed University in Dubai for three years. As an Emirati woman, she was interested in and wrote about questions on state feminism, national identity and ethnic diversity among Emiratis. She has published her work in Arab Studies Journal (2020); Hawwa (2020); Urban Anthropology (2019); New Middle Eastern Studies (2016) as well as in other public platforms such as the LSE Middle East Studies Blog where she wrote about navigating multiple lived experiences in the Gulf; social distinction, and perceptions of authenticity.

Moderated by: Sophie Mayuko Arni (Curator, Founder of Global Art Daily Agency)

Sophie Mayuko Arni is a curator and editor based between Tokyo and Dubai. She is the curator of the "East-East: UAE meets Japan" exhibition series, which has been featured in Arab News, The National, Dubai TV, Khaleej Times, Identity Magazine, Vogue Arabia, and Bijutsu Techo. With over 20 participating Emirati, UAE-based, and Japanese artists, the exhibition is currently at its fifth volume and has toured multiple cities in the UAE and Japan, including Abu Dhabi (NYU Abu Dhabi Project Space, 2016), Dubai (CHI-KA Space at Alserkal Avenue, 2017-18), Tokyo (BLOCK HOUSE, HB.Nezu, 2020), and Atami (ATAMI ART GRANT at Hotel Acao Annex, 2022). In 2022, she was recognized by the UAE Embassy in Japan for her efforts to bridge the UAE and Japan artistic scenes as part of the 50th Anniversary of UAE-Japan Diplomatic Relations.

Originally Swiss-Japanese, Sophie is also the Founder and Managing Director of Global Art Daily Agency, an agency dedicated to contemporary art exhibitions and publications in Dubai, UAE. the growth of the UAE’s art scene from a global perspective. Appearing on panel talks about Asian and Arab contemporary art, Sophie has also written for Arab News Japan, SOLE Magazine, and The Fiker Institute. She graduated with a B.A. in Art & Art History from NYU Abu Dhabi and with an MPhil in Arts Studies and Curatorial Practices from Tokyo University of the Arts.1st Floor, Festival of the Arts

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