When it comes to the subject(s) of “street art” and “graffiti” in their myriad of forms, Dubai, may be one of the last places that springs to mind. Given the country’s complex residency conditions, transient populace, censorship, vested interest in public image and its notoriously precarious legal system, it’s not very surprising. All factors seem to go against its fruition and expression. But, if you have been living in the city over the past two and a half years, you may have come across a string of scrawls that have been haunting the city’s landscape. Appearing, disappearing and re-appearing again as often as the veering landscape itself… and always signed off with a grimy triangle or U shaped symbol.
Described by London Street Art and Design magazine to embody the ‘essence of street art’, Arcadia Blank’s aphoristic graffiti texts have been sending silent shock waves, provoking public debate, and breathing new life into a part of the city known to long term residents as ‘New Dubai’. What initially began as an act of defying the compartmentalization and overt commercialism of the city’s art world, has gradually evolved into a perpetual narrative of a resident reclaiming the city’s abandoned and temporary construction elements, and turning them into reflections of his own voicelessness. As well as, perhaps, a hushed reflection of the city itself.
From sticker interventions outside an entrance to Dubai Mall, to larger than life poetic proclamations of loss and love off Emirates Road, Arcadia’s textual interventions have appeared, literally, everywhere. And through their progression, have arguably re-shaped the city’s perception of art’s barriers and it’s function within it, and have even gone so far as to alter the relationship some residents and tourists have had with the city itself.
As a long term expat in Dubai, and having seen the city evolve over the years, Arcadia Blank’s work is also heavily steeped in combating the imposing corporate ethos that is gradually manifesting in Dubai. One that, he feels, is steadily over taking and distorting our notions of identity and culture, as well as our shared quest for spiritual belonging and human connectivity. Although the reality of a corporate takeover isn’t unique to Dubai, the liberty of citizen and resident expression in an open environment to counter it, which is granted in many countries around the world, isn’t given here. So what other choice did Arcadia have but to turn rogue in response to it?
For the first time, Capsule Arts will be offering a limited edition set of signed black and white prints from the artists own private photography collection, as well as a set of smaller coloured prints of photographs from the artist's official blog. The prints will be available to purchase at capsulearts.com, for more details about Arcadia Blank and the launch collection sign up here.