National Pavilion UAE - Walking on Water: Trapped and Free, Lost and Found. | By Hasan Al Shaikh
  • Walking on Water: Trapped and Free, Lost and Found. | By Hasan Al Shaikh


    “It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.” – Nicholas Sparks

    If someone has ever been lost in the open sea;  his life will some how be divided into two: the half before being lost, and the half after. For any ordinary person he/she may speak about it and live it for a while, but when an artist experiences this, what do you think he might do?

    One artwork, one artist and a mixture of emotions, thoughts and directions. This is a simple way to describe Mohammed Kazem’s artwork, that he presented this year at the 55th Venice Biennale, with an interesting title “walking on Water”.

    Once you step inside, you feel trapped and free, lost and found at the same time. Some visitors saw it as an end of a movie scene, others felt its the beginning of new story. For me standing inside the dome, i felt like looking toward the future, i can go anywhere from here, with 360 possible directions.  The art installation makes you think about life, about yourself, and about the endless possibilities. It raises questions like where are you now, and what are you going to do next? questions that commonly shared by people form different ages, background and nationalities, communities and ethnicites.

    Artist Paul Klee once said “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible”. Kazem work translate this saying; he used water in its natural form to produce art. The sea is one of the major geographical scenes in the UAE, and its  also most powerful in city like Venice where locals use water to even move around the city. However, it is still not too common to make water ‘the’ art,

    Kazem succeeds in capturing his “lost in the sea experience”. The whole experience in the dome might take about a minute or so, but the feeling that Kazem leaves you with will last for a long time.  I was especially amazed with the sounds of the sea that transfer you to the location immediately, and the ambient light completes the harmony between the work elements.

    I think that the National Pavilion of the UAE’s exhibition this year is powerful and resonates very well with the audience of the Biennale. It provides the visitors with a free space to experience the art without the need of any explanation. It is not a still object, its not cold, yet its interactive and keeps moving. This is exactly what the artist wanted to achieve with his ongoing series “directions”, and I believe he made a stunning art to remember.

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