Under the curation of Salwa Mikdadi, Kuwaiti visual artist Tarek Al Ghoussein has his third solo exhibition Al Sawaber in Dubai at The Third Line. Featuring photographs of a government housing complex in Kuwait slated for demolition, this is an exhibition that toes the line with documentary photography.
Honing in on forgotten spaces in a moment of urban development, the photographs and central installation grouping of abandoned personal objects, including rubber chickens, ashtrays shoes and more, depict realistic, non-sensationalised and non-aestheticised expressions of “homeliness” through the relationship of mass-produced apartment units and individual touches. The sense of personalising the standardised abodes includes complicated wall treatments, from florals to birds within a maple forest, as well as obscure objects that without further context, leave mysterious but palpable traces of the lives that inhabited these walls.
While the Al Sawaber complex is due to be demolished in the near future, having long been abandoned by the locals who were given the properties and the foreigners who rented them, this exhibition is an important documentation and insight into the Gulf’s recent past and the fleeting nature of habitation in a region synonymous with rapid growth and change.