‘Guest Relations’ at Jameel Arts Centre

The landmark Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai welcomes a new group exhibition, Guest Relations, this winter. The exhibition runs until 28 April 2024. Curators Murtaza Vali and Lucas Morin join forces for a show that investigates the nature of commercial hospitality through art, architecture, and urban planning.

Taking the hotel as its subject, this exhibition brings together the work of 34 artists whose archival and architectural research exhibit the historical, political and cultural metamorphosis of the concept of tourism from colonial hubris to present-day globalisation.

Ahmed Mater, Abraaj Al Bait Towers, 2012

The exhibition appropriately draws on the nature of its surrounding topography and comes at an appropriate time as Dubai has become an increasingly recognised centre for global tourism. Interrogating themes that reflect the bustling metropolis, thus guiding the viewer through realms of common understanding, familiarity and relatability.

The vision for urban development in Dubai is multi-faceted, considering the prosperity of future generations. This comes at a time when the UAE is making moves to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel and diversify its economy, with an increased focus on tourism and hospitality.

Hilmi Johandi, My Raffles Experience, 2019

In alignment with the architects of the space, who built the site around the model of a Kunsthalle- an art centre for temporary exhibitions Guest Relations hinges on similarly transitory attributes, exploring the concept of temporary residency and what this might be in the context of today.

A profound, and perhaps oxymoronic, consideration that is brought up by the exhibition is the merging of the hotel as a communal hub of transaction, entertainment and leisure, and the notion of ‘comfort and security’ and how this can be found in light of the stimulation that modern-day hospitality can propose, whether in the context of airlines, cruise ships or amusement parks.

Taryn Simon, Agreement to develop Park Hyatt St. Kitts under the St. Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 16, 2012, from the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015

The exhibition includes work by Pio Abad, Nadi Abusaada, Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Marwa Arsanios, Abdul Halik Azeez, Asma Belhamar, Sophie Calle, Tenzing Dakpa, Shezad Dawood, Meschac Gaba, Mario García Torres, Lamya Gargash, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Mati Jhurry & Nabla Yahya, Eisa Jocson, Hilmi Johandi, Ranjit Kandalgaonkar, Ahmed Mater, Hind Mezaina, Park Sunyoung & Lee Somi, Michael Rakowitz, Marwan Rechmaoui, Yiyo Tirado Rivera, Salma Serry, Taryn Simon, Svay Ken, Rayyane Tabet, Hale Tenger, Sung Tieu, Lantian Xie, Ala Younis.

All in all, Guest Relations offers an insightful reading of the concept of hospitality today through the lenses of some of the most interesting art practitioners working in the region and beyond. In this exhibition, the visions of curator Lucas Morin, whose research on the tangible vestiges of human interaction, are partnered with Murtaza Vali’s ongoing research into material histories in a social, historical commentary on a subject matter that is rarely presented as a cultural subject.