• Summary

    Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian are known for their immersive, surreal projects, performances, paintings, and animations, which have exhibited internationally, at multiple biennials and major museums (including  Liverpool, Sydney, and Toronto biennials, and Kunsthalle Zurich, ICA Boston, MACBA Barcelona, and a forthcoming project at the Hayward Gallery, London). Originally from Iran, they have adopted Dubai as their home.

    For Parthenogenesis, their first institutional solo exhibition in the UAE, the artists will create a landscape in the gallery that traces how an artwork grows itself through an artist’s relationships with others.  

    Parthenogenesis is a testament to their 13 years in Dubai as artists living and working together, creating a landscape and network of continuously evolving ideas and dialogues with collaborators, artists, and visitors to their home. 

  • Read the essay

    Below is an excerpt from the curator’s introduction:

    The word “parthenogenesis” derives from biology. It describes a beginning that has no cause (partheno: unfertilized/pure + genesis: birth/beginning). The artists employ this term as a metaphor to describe art’s origination: inception is not reproduction. Perhaps the term suggests a moment where life becomes art.

    Still, art doesn’t live in a vacuum: it shapes, and is shaped by, multiple forces as plays out in this exhibition. Dance forms evolve across cultures. Past artworks and past wars—and today’s news—suffuse our consciousness, and interact with the course of the natural world. Art erupts in the midst of it, transmuting and blossoming new imagined futures through poetry of word, gesture, and painted line.

    The artworks here manifest some of those forces for the artists since their adoption of Dubai as their home 13 years ago, as well as their call-and-response with other artists and makers. In Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi’s video of a 2012 exhibition, he tours art that reappears here, now corroded from a decade outdoors, in the artists’ garden. The artists’ studio is also their home, and looms large in the ongoing landscape of their practice. Farah Al Qasimi’s photos for Art Asia Pacific in 2014 document their studio then, while Lamya Gargash creates a photo series portrait of the same space (different art) today. The filmmaker Sara Saghari animates the studio in the dark of night, by flashlight exploration.

    Mimesis, in particular, underpins the call-and-response activity for these artists, as with the videos and works mentioned above, and as with this very text, as well as the accompanying youth guide’s illustrations. In the space around you, the visitor, as a participant in the exhibition, will find yet another way to describe what you experience and see. Rather than a collaboration in the co-creating sense, here the artists take turns originating new work that in some way “mimes” other work—rooted in their profound respect for the alchemical power of play.

    As part of a series in which the artists use only bodily gestures to describe a form for Mohammed Rahis Mollah, their welder-collaborator, to make, they invited Kiori Kawai to choreograph descriptions of the recent welded sculptures. In turn, the artists produce new sculptures, themselves enacting and replicating Kawai’s choreographies for the welder, who mimics it with metal form. The triangle of comprehension created between the welder, the artists, and the dancer relies on the movement of the body, on dance (mimetic origination), and finally, in the call and response between artwork and exhibition visitor, whatever form that may take. The list of others with whom they work in this way goes on, through poetry, video, and imagined architecture—always serving an origination of new artwork, in the call and response.

    The artists’ experience of war, expulsion, and culture shock simmer underneath their art production, rippling through images from everyday press clippings and news reels, and ultimately expanding to include planetary and existential quandaries and delight—a surprising degree of delight. When bodies move—to comprehend or to celebrate, in violence, grief, or migration—it can change ecologies and biomes, one’s own probiotic flora and even RNA. Likewise, the movement of art and ideas transform both individual psyches and geopolitical consciousness, and the reverse.

    A series of clay sculptures make up the newest medium and body of work, which the artists refer to as “the hole” series. At first glance, these depart from the visual style elsewhere in the exhibition. Dark, messy, awkward lumps of clay glisten, undecorated, and are apparently non-representational. And yet, in another kind of mimesis, each object records the artists’ bodies and movements in relationship to the clay. These derive from the artists’ continued exploration of ways to manifest a visceral sensation of displacement, of loss, of a gap where something was or should be: the hole itself is the object here.

    Throughout this exhibition—these holes, these paintings on plates (which they think of as molecules of encrypted historical witnessing), on newspaper images, animations, the floors, and the walls—the artists reflect and transmute the news of the day, their own experience of displacement from their home of origin, and the howl of human history. Viewers will recognize scenes of covid testing, gloves, masks, news articles about museum closures and re-openings. Embedded among these: snakes appear, sliding in and out of surgical masks, lacing through news articles. The snakes make more holes, and frame our view of the world, not unlike the anxiety that the pandemic has brought about. They evoke contamination and danger, but also, as seen on pharmacy symbols and medical bracelets: the snake of medicine.

    [the essay continues, read the full essay here]