- By Sophie Arni
Last March, Dubai-based artist Christopher Benton revealed his latest installation 'LLC' at the Sikka Art Fair, Dubai's alternative art fair. LLC (If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will) explores the effects of gentrification in Satwa - the South East Asian hub of Dubai. The artists talks of Dubai, and Satwa especially, as a "melting pot" of aspiration and inspiration.
The installation brings together a monument of stacked light boxes representing the small businesses that make Satwa one of Dubai's most vibrant neighborhood. Entrepreneurship is here celebrated for its aspirational will and cultural production. "The office boy who now runs a chain of tailoring shops" or "the former construction worker who now owns a restaurants cooking his family recipes" make up the new rags-to-riches, self-made, million-dollar stories of Dubai. These are the people behind Dubai's history, the new capital of the Global South.
The exhibition is set in the Al Fahidi Cultural District, a refurbished cultural heritage site in Old Dubai and as such "interrogates the museumfication of living history". As Satwa is experiencing gentrification and its future is uncertain, is the area worthy of preservation? Will it endure sanitization? Will the sand erase its colorful space and eclectic history?
Christopher Benton (@maxfirepower) is a Satwa-based conceptual artist working across photography, film, sculpture and digital media. Past work has been made in collaboration with Alserkal Avenue, "Execute Trajectory", and Sikka Art Fair 2017, "Ghetto Majlis". He is the creative director of Dubai-based record label Bedouin Records and the founder of the art collective BrownBlack.
MARCH 17 - 26, 2018
SIKKA ART FAIR
AL FAHIDI HISTORICAL DISTRICT, HOUSE 16