Gold-tips in Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Marina (GM-A, 2013).
IMBECILIC CONTINGENT INTRUSION(4)*
Everything we know about ourselves and our various shared and not well-shared histories affirms that systems of hermetic control never work for long, that consolidation hastens collapse. The more autocratic the regime, the messier the collapse. I will leave all of that to time, which will operate unerringly.
Meanwhile, to demonstrate a simple truth, we are going to plant a forest in DXB’s Terminal 3. It’s easy. Those of us who know the place will return from various ports in carefully staged flights that betray no joint venture. We will all be either prevented from getting on a flight, stopped at and detained at DXB, or held in the Deportees Room for some hours. Two of us at least will get in—to the airport, not the country!—and overlap in the Room on ROLEX time. We will take our allotted hour to find food in the Terminal and head up to our Costa rendezvous. We will have seeds of trees with us. We will be carrying gorgeous presentation boxes of fertilised roals or figs, like the kind from Aliya Dates Farm that I recall from a leather-lined yacht in Abu Dhabi’s Palace Marina.
Gifts, you see. Gifts of the Rolla tree, the put-upon-banyans, these potent embodiments of hopes, wishes and dreams for change.
And we will plant, wherever we find soil in the Terminal. Where the palms grow in the great halls, where floral displays are within reach, in the two potted plants in the Deportees Room itself.
I will enjoy reaching my hands underneath the glass partition in the Security Office to plant rebellion right under the fixed visages of the two Shaikhs at the rear of the room. These seeds will grow into ‘soldiers’ protecting new qasrs which are closer to the Palestinian farmer’s shelter in the wadi than the thunking spectacle of the new Ruler’s Palace at the end of the corniche in Abu Dhabi.
The point is to document the planting on film; soiled fingers, hasty thrusting and smoothing over, in mirrored halls under ROLEX time and meaningless ads for connectedness. Then to share that harmless but insurrectionary ‘poor’ imagery with the best generational minds out there at Sharjah’s 2019 Biennial and beyond.
“We are out of uae.
WE HAVE FOOTAGE
Brother ‘Costa’ received his gift and promises more…”
- (FN 46) This refers to a short series of texts called ‘Imbecilic Contingent Intrusions’, a phrase lifted from Slavoj Zizek, The Plague of Fantasies, London: Verso, 1997, p. 129. I exhibited ICI (two) with Cerith Wyn Evans’ neon Lacanian loop in an exhibition titled Essential Things, Robert Prime Gallery, London, July 1999 (all the texts were published on a then ‘special’ CD-ROM edition).
Excerpted from the end of Tales From The Deportees Room: Porting One (DXB), Guy Mannes-Abbott, July 2018, DI’VAN 4.
Otobong Nkanga and Emeka Ogboh’s Aging Ruins Dreaming Only to Recall the Hard Chisel from the Past (SAF, 2019).
One of notably few critical responses to 2019’s Biennial is this one online by Melissa Gronlund for Art/Agenda: Sharjah Biennial 14: “Leaving the Echo Chamber”. She writes; “Other biennial-size works stared down the spectacular and stopped it in it tracks. The standout work was Otobong Nkanga and Emeka Ogboh’s Aging Ruins Dreaming Only to Recall the Hard Chisel from the Past (2019). It tells the story of a palm tree addicted to drinking salt water, that consequently shrivels and dies … as the tree calls to children to sing for rain … a large-scale commission like this one is a reminder of why the exhibition form persist.” (Let’s hope for much more critical engagement, otherwise Abu Dhabi will have succeeded in killing off not only all forms of mild dissent but also curiosity more broadly; what survives the closure of mind and mouth… )
The original Porting One (Sharjah) was not destined for the Biennial (beware the fictive!), but its contracted Production Award (2016, SAF/Gov’t of Sharjah) was intended for production/exhibition in 2017/18, a large-scale visual-performative work using the rolla tree, film, voice, and otherwise uncannily related to the kinds of thematics and spatial/other qualities above. Too dangerous for insecure autocrats in Abu Dhabi…