15 June 2013
Walking On Water is a 360-degree color video installation as part of the Directions series (2005-2013) by the renowned Mohammed Kazem. The installation is composed of a dome structure, where a person can walk in and experience a 360-degree panoramic view of the sea. On the floor is a screen displaying GPS coordinates as in the picture.
In my opinion, I think this is truly a milestone for both Mohammed Kazem and the Directions series; if not for the entire arts industry in the UAE. This fantastic installation is not something any artist can do or have the means of doing. This project was commissioned by Dr. Lamees Hamdan, curated by Reem Fadda, and generously supported by the Sheikha Salama Foundation. It truly is a piece worthy of the prestigious Venice Biennale.
The exhibition was received by much enthusiasm by both industry and general audience alike. As an intern working in the UAE pavilion 6 days a week, I can safely say that many have found it to be one of their top favorite exhibitions this Biennale due to their many comments and excitement. It gives me utmost pride to be an important part of Mohammed Kazem’s work.
The artwork for me represents total isolation and carefree-ness. With wars, political issues, economic crises, environmental disasters, etc. ravaging all around the globe, it’s outlandish to even suggest such things are true once convinced that you are confined to this vast emptiness. The only thing suggesting your location is the GPS coordinates under your feet. It is a sense of freedom and calm you receive just standing there, and truly brings me a peace that I have rarely sensed. I found this very relevant to myself especially since I am a fan of sailing. The video and setup is so powerful and convincing that you may have a natural tendency of feeling seasick as many visitors have felt. I also like the biblical reference of the title Walking On Water, it is a fitting title in my opinion not only for its physical sense, but also for its conceptual sense. Religion is something that brings a calm head to many people, as does the artwork.
I can’t stress enough how proud this exhibition makes me feel. It is something that not only can compete international, but also carries much value and meaning. I can only pray that more artists in the UAE be able to produce more powerful and amazing works such as this to keep us all proud.