Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Art Commission by urban collective METASITU opens in Alserkal Avenue
we were building sand castles_but the wind blew them away_FINALFINAL3.psd, an Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Art Commission by urban collective METASITU opened on 6 November in Warehouse 90 (previously known as Nadi Al Quoz ). The Commission by former Alserkal Residency residents METASITU suggests architecture as a process, rather than a finished object. Through it, the collective explores the cycles of ruinification, ecological footprint, returns, and alternative urban models.
METASITU has transformed the building previously known as Nadi Al Quoz into a ruin folly, a popular architectural typology in the 18th and 19th century Western garden tradition. During those times, patrons commissioned ‘deliberate ruins’ and ‘exotic pavilions’ - follies - for their estates. These structures of ‘unusable architecture’ came to establish spatial counter-narratives to the production-line logic of the, then-emerging, industrialisation era.
By deliberately creating a ruin in 21st century Dubai, METASITU reflects on the extractive city-building processes, as well as contextualising them within different human and geological timelines. In an attempt to return the building’s materials to their ‘original state’, different parts have been repurposed and reused. The Commission will run until 25 January 2020. In the spring of 2020, the space will be further deconstructed into a landscaped environment for the public.
(Image credit: we were building sand castles_but the wind blew them away_FINALFINAL3.psd, an Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Art Commission by urban collective METASITU. Photography by Ismail Noor. Courtesy Alserkal.)
About Alserkal Arts Foundation
The Alserkal Arts Foundation supports socially engaged, multi-disciplinary practices and facilitates cross-cultural exchange through its four core initiatives: public art commissions, residencies, research grants and educational programmes. The Foundation offers cultural practitioners – either based in Dubai, or whose practice critically investigates themes pertinent to the region's artistic community – opportunities for research, scholarship, and artistic production. All of Alserkal Arts Foundation’s activities are supported by Alserkal, an Emirati family business spearheaded by Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal.
METASITU is a research-based and socially-driven practice, pendulating between Kiev and Athens. They usurp artistic roles (artists, curators, coordinators), using art as a strategy: a platform to support their research, a medium to reach different actors, and a tool to establish bridges across disciplines. This allows them to abuse urbanism discourses, develop new tools to empower individuals in the way they relate to the territory, and challenge spatial power hegemonies. Founded in 2014 by Liva Dudareva and Eduardo Cassina, METASITU was born with the goal of enabling cognitive emancipations around the (built) environment, by establishing new formats of knowledge exchange for understanding the urban condition today, for an exciting tomorrow. At METASITU they strive to open up new discursive lines, and demystify prevalent spatial narratives, by curating urbanism festivals, delivering workshops, producing videos, coordinating residencies, developing public programs, tutoring students, self-publishing, and transgressing real estate commodities. For the past three years they have been researching alternatives to traditional master planning techniques for post-industrial shrinking cities. They believe in creating a horizontal framework for knowledge exchange in order to subsume degrowth in their masterplans.