Alserkal Spring Programme | Corrective Maintenance

The new season of Alserkal Programming continues to build on our previous thematic, which explored artistic work and the mechanics of art production through industry. Cultural practitioners and arts organisations are increasingly called on to investigate ways through which technology and innovation will shape our future. How do we plan to adapt to the changing landscape? Is it necessary to innovate in order to thrive? Could shifting our focus instead to discourses around ‘maintenance’, within and beyond the realm of infrastructure, urge us to reconsider our present moment? Over the 2018-2019 Fall, Spring, and Summer seasons, Alserkal Programming will invite a multi-disciplinary selection of practices and voices to explore three definitions of maintenance taken from the technical realm; preventative, corrective and predictive.

The Maintenance thematic will be explored throughout the 2018-2019 Fall, Spring, and Summer seasons through a series of workshops, lectures, performances, and seminars. All events are open to the public. Prior registration is necessary, as spaces are limited.

To register, email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae with the name of the event you’d like to take part in in the subject.


Reading Group | Trouble in Paradise by Slavoj Žižek, with Kevin Jones

February - April 2019

“Socrates on steroids.” “The most dangerous philosopher in the West.” “The Elvis of cultural theory.” Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has become a cult figure due to both his intellectual showmanship and radical political stance. Boisterously juggling Marx and Hitchcock, Hegel and Hollywood schlock, psychoanalysis and the Batman franchise, Žižek is an idiosyncratic guide through the current state of late capitalism.

Through its many twists and turns, Trouble in Paradise (2014) analyses a variety of recent political and economic crises (Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia among others), which Žižek links back to the accelerating transformation of the global Capitalist system. The ideal text for Žižek newcomers, Trouble in Paradise works as an introduction to the philosopher-celebrity’s critique of modern capitalism, and his exploration of how popular culture plays its part in the system. But beware: this influential thinker’s brand of revolutionary dreaming is not for everyone.

The Reading Group is designed to be a forum of open conversation and debate, a collective means of supporting readers through books that might be too daunting to tackle alone.

Limited to 10 participants. Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae to register.


Session 1: Contextualising Trouble in Paradise

Date: 20 February 2019

Time: 6.30-8.30PM

Location: Cinema Room, A4 Space

This introductory session will place the book within the context of Žižek’s wider oeuvre. Without dwelling too much on the hype around the author, we will nonetheless try to assess his appeal (or rejection), and highlight some of the fundamental concepts at work in the text.


Session 2: Structure (or lack of it)

Date: 6 March 2019

Time: 6.30-8.30PM

Location: Meeting point A4 Space

The five-part structure of Trouble in Paradise is drawn from the flow of a joke, and the text proclaims to adhere to these five chapters. Yet the work is jumpy, restless; ideas recoil back on themselves, leaving no real linear development. Tantalising though this interdisciplinary romp may be, we’ll discuss what lies behind Žižek’s apparent structural mayhem.


Session 3: The absurdities of capitalism and the role of popular culture

Date: 3 April 2019

Time: 6.30-8.30PM

Location: Meeting point A4 Space

Instances of the vagaries of capitalism abound in Trouble in Paradise, and we’ll use this session to highlight a few examples, pinpointing specific connections to popular culture.


Session 4: The Master

Date: 17 April 2019

Time: 6.30-8.30PM

Location: Meeting point A4 Space

Much of the latter part of the book concerns the figure of the Master, a figure required in moments of crisis to galvanise those who believe in revolutionary change—a sort of “Thatcher of the left.” This final session will also try to articulate Žižek’s ultimate recommendation: what is he actually proposing, and can we take him seriously?


Running Club

Date: Every Saturday until April

Time: 8-9AM

Location: Alserkal Avenue

Alserkal Avenue invites runners and joggers of all speeds to join on runs around the Avenue. Join marathon runner and one of the youngest members of the renowned running club, Dubai Creek Striders, Partha Hegde for sessions where you will learn the right way to run and how to put off the fear of encountering it. How it works: 10-minute warm up session and a 30-minute jogging session around the Avenue. 

The running club is free and open to everyone.
Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae with the name of the event in the subject to register.


Talk & Performance | Recycling Traditional Voices

Date: 6 April 2019

Time: 4PM

Location: The Fridge, Warehouse 5

Syrian musician duo Sami Abo Louh and Munsef Turkmani, known as 2 Witnesses, play a live demo from their debut album Polarity, then open the floor for a conversation about recycling traditional voices, tunes, and lyrics, and reproducing them in a contemporary musical style—while still maintaining authenticity.

Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae to register.

Talk | Dubai Happiness Agenda: Engineering the Happiest City on Earth

Date: 10 April 2019

Time: 6.30PM

Location: The Tharawat Space, Warehouse 19.

This talk by Dr. Ali Alazzawi, City Experience Advisor at Smart Dubai, will explore how Smart Dubai is using the science of happiness and well-being to systematically raise happiness and the quality of life in Dubai.

Free and open to all. Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae to register.


Talk | Reclaiming Culture: Hollow Forms and the Palestinian Ground
Date: 13 April 2019
Time: 2PM
Location: d.Academy Warehouse 44
As a Palestinian architect and designer focused on the region, Dima Srouji believes her generation has a responsibility to reclaim the cultural heritage that was taken away from Palestine through years of colonialism and occupation. In this talk, Srouji will touch on how she designs to reconstruct and reclaim the Palestinian narrative with the aim of pushing art, design, and architecture into the future. The architect will focus on her glass collection Hollow Forms, a project through which she attempts to revive a dying traditional craft, using 3D digital software in combination with ancient glass blowing techniques to cross social, disciplinary, political, and economic boundaries—all in an attempt to map the cultural heritage of Palestine. The contemporary forms in the collection embody a story that takes place in a deserted village outside of Ramallah where the pieces were produced by local artisans. Srouji will also discuss A Rule of Superposition, a project which investigates how archaeology is used to censor the layers of the Palestinian ground, and how designers and artists can use creativity and imagination to reveal the censored strata of Jerusalem. Finally, she will showcase a more lighthearted project through which she collected and analysed a humorous and bedazzled collection of paintings of the city of Jerusalem that were painted by foreign pilgrims in the Middle Ages, and how those images of the city can be used to understand where we stand today.

More about Dima Srouji: Dima Srouji is a Palestinian architect working in the expanded context of interdisciplinary research-based projects. Her work explores intersectionalities of art and architecture through historic strata and spatial edges, and questions issues of place. More specifically, her work deals with critical cartography and constructs alternative architectural narratives focused on the MENA region. She has exhibited her work in multiple cultural platforms in the Middle East including Art Dubai, Amman and Dubai Design Weeks, the Qattan Foundation and the Third Line Gallery Library at Alserkal Avenue.  She has lived and practiced in London, New Haven at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Milan at Cino Zucchi Architetti and Ramallah at the Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation. Srouji is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture where she was the teaching fellow for Professor Peter Eiseman for two years as well as a teaching assistant for Todd Reisz. She presently serves as a board member on the Yale Arab Alumni Association and as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the American University of Sharjah. 

Free and open to all. Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae to register.


Talk | Invisible Geographies: Interactive Documentary and Post-Colonial Historiographies 

Date: 20 April 2019

Time: 4PM

Location: Alserkal Avenue

This talk by Dale Hudson, Associate Professor, Film and New Media Programme, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Digital Curator of Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival examines the capacity for interactive documentaries, loosely defined as non-fiction media that run on web or mobile platforms, to activate ‘invisible geographies’. Using digital technologies to locate unmarked and unmapped relationships, they allows users to recombine data into useful information. In part, they reject the viability of singular messages and advocate for contingency and comparison as a means of finding common cause, respect for difference, and empathy.

Explore projects such as The Green Book of South Carolina (2017), iNakba (2014), and Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (2013) which reclaim histories, such as African American contributions often whitewashed from US history, the violent dispossession of Palestinians by European militia during the Nakba, and recent dispossession of immigrant communities through gentrification of the Silicon Valley. More than a fun gimmick, these projects allow for a more nuanced and accurate understanding of contemporary conflicts and misunderstanding.

Free and open to all. Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae to register.


TALK | 2030 Agenda: Inclusivity and Human Rights, Refugees and the Sustainable Development Goals

Date: 24 April 2019

Time: 6.30PM

Location: Alserkal Avenue

In a world increasingly shaped by climate change, poverty and conflict, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without taking into account the rights and needs of refugees. 2030 Agenda for SDGs—underpinned by two principles, leaving no one behind, and human rights for all—hence provide a powerful basis for inclusion and the participation of refugees in these transformative goals. Omer Elnaiem from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, surveys how refugees are a showcase of the transformative, inclusive, and global vision of SDGs for a better world, in action.

Free and open to all. Email rsvp@alserkalavenue.ae to register.