Soheila Sokhanvari talks to Arabpolitecture

Tucked away neatly in the throbbing financial heart of Dubai lies the Moving Museum, nestled safely in the confines of DIFC gate village this oasis of experimental and contemporary art houses a wide range of eclectic pieces by a variety of artists. It was one of these artists Soheila Sokhanvari that spoke to arabpolitecture about her visually engaging and powerful piece MOJE SABZ.

MOJE SABZ is the name of the piece which comprises of a taxidermied horse standing on top of/squashing a plastic exercise ball. Soheila a clearly eloquent and well read artist formerly a biochemist at the university of Cambridge researching leukaemia; goes on to explain that the piece is performative since it requires the viewer to Google the name, as the viewer discovers the name refers to the failed uprising against the Iranian regime in 2009.

Apart from being a visually arresting piece, that combines a powerful attention seeking colour palette and beautifully preserved horse, it is a strong and unwavering political statement that lends itself to be projected onto a variety of contexts. It being in Dubai after all, the uncharacteristically calm ultra modern utopian/dystopian mega city in a neighbourhood of flux speaks volumes about its intentions. The crushing of pure dreams, the obtuse and powerful smothering of the winds of change, the silent glassy eyed gaze into the corner that simultaneously ignores and monitors all the patrons, Soheila quite rightly states that she wants the viewer ‘to come to their own conclusions’. My initial reading and subsequent post rationalisation marry the horse with decaying authoritarian regimes and the ball with the crushed will of the masses.

The signs are good, the fact that incrementally Dubai is allowing these fascinating galleries and pieces some breathing space means that the regional discourse can slowly but surely move from the ‘if’ to the ‘how’, yes there will always be cursory glances over the shoulder as artists, writers and designers fumble there way around the invisible but ever-changing red lines but the book is open for discussion, one page at a time at least.

What would be fascinating to see is if and when local Emirati resident visit the exhibitions and see the pieces, and to really find out what they actually think. Visually Dubai is a cacophony of stunning/ugly concrete and steel structures, but does that reflect the soul of the city? Will the art work feed into this city of nearly endless potential tangents or will it be used to window dress a city that so easily feeds its detractors armaments to attack its very opulent existence.

Photo reproduced with the kind permission of Soheila Sokhanvari

Moje Sabz arrival

Photo reproduced with the kind permission of Soheila Sokhanvari

Moje Sabz arrivalPhoto reproduced with the kind permission of Soheila Sokhanvari

Moje Sabz arrival

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