Karim Sultan

Karim Sultan

Karim Sultan

Different Air (2016-2017)

Performance: Sunday 13 November, 7pm 

Location: Cap9, Warehouse 1

An Alserkal Avenue Programming Commission; produced with generous support by Opsys.


Karim Sultan is an artist and curator based in Dubai. Different Air is the first iteration of a performance that involves an interaction between the performer and a piece of recorded media. The premise of the performance is based around the increasing distance between an individual who leaves home and the memories they retain in their migration, specifically the difficulties in retaining them accurately and performing them meaningfully as they drift further and further away, geographically and chronologically. This is illustrated through the actions of the performance itself in which the performer attempts to accompany a repeated piece of music on the oud. However, during the performance, the air in the performer’s room gradually changes in character, as though it is being suspended higher and higher above sea level, making the musical accompaniment increasingly difficult to play until it is finally impossible to do so.  

The technology used to realise ‘Different Air’ has been generously provided by Opsys, a Dubai-based multi-disciplinary engineering firm, whose Cap9 system is used for simulated altitude training and fire prevention in archives, data centres, and large warehouses. Over the next five months, the artist will continue to experiment with the Cap9 system and collaborate with the company’s engineers, to realise further iterations of the performance. Future performances are yet to be announced.

Biography:  Born in Kuwait and now living in Dubai, Karim Sultan is an artist and curator. A graduate of York University in Toronto, Karim creates experimental electronica-based sound art that is imbued with Arab and regional influences. The work acts as a kind of travelogue that narrates his journeys, both physically and metaphorically. Karim performed at the 2015 Shubbak Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture in London and is the founding editor of Kalimat magazine, the non-profit publication that is committed to open expression for Arab creatives worldwide. He plays the oud, the Arabic stringed instrument similar to the lute. Karim is also currently the curator at Barjeel Art Foundation.