Walking on Water
Walking on Water presented Directions 2005/2013, an immersive installation conceived in 2005 and realized for the National Pavilion UAE at the 55th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Comprised of a 360-degree projection of the sea and illuminated interchangeable GPS coordinates within an enclosed chamber, the artwork engages viewers in a seascape that invited them to experience what it is to be lost at sea, to walk the waters unafraid, to cross physical barriers, and to roam the borders of ideas freely, thereby questioning and challenging their perceptions of openness and universality.
Mohammed Kazem (b. 1969, Dubai) has been a leading figure of the contemporary art scene in the UAE since the 1990s. Among the first artists there to adopt a conceptual language and produce video and multimedia installations, Kazem combines his subjective point of view—sometimes manifested through his body and other times alluded to more abstractly—with references to natural and manmade landscapes, particularly of the UAE, to comment on the poetics of place, belonging, and change.
Kazem’s most emblematic series, Directions, is a conceptual project that the artist began in 1999 and has continued to develop through various multimedia installations and photographic series. The water and the sea stand at the center of this project, which was inspired by an experience Kazem had while on a fishing trip. On that occasion, he fell, unnoticed, from the boat and was lost at sea for over half an hour before being located. Subsequent to this experience, Kazem became inspired to experiment with Geographical Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, which fishermen use to remember the location of the nets that they cast. GPS coordinates became a defining aspect of the Directions series and an iconic trademark for Kazem, who sees GPS as a tool for documenting his whereabouts, symbolically referencing his very existence, and underscoring the ability to traverse both literal and figurative places without inhibition.
The exhibition Walking on Water was curated by Reem Fadda, and commissioned by Dr. Lamees Hamdan.
Artwork caption: Directions 2005/2013, 2005/2013 Color video installation, with sound, 2 min. loop, overall dimensions variable