Walk into the lobby of the Vida Downtown Dubai at the moment and you are confronted by a shining 21st century totem. This is Owais Husain’s Empires of Memory, a video installation contained within a stack of steel trunks, dwelling on ideas of identity, migration and memory.
Hotel lobbies can so often be soulless, empty places, so the Vida Downtown prides itself on its series of collaborations with artists through its ongoing Art in Vida program. In Dubai, particularly, there is a trend for showing artworks in its many restaurants and hotels. Such initiatives both lend creative interest and personality to these spaces and support the region’s artistic community through giving artists a public platform to display their work, one where it is seen by hundreds of (often wealthy) people every day.
Owais Husain’s Empires of Memory installation At Vida Downtown
Born in 1967 in Mumbai and now based in Dubai, Husain has moved multiple times throughout his life and, unsurprisingly, his work often returns to themes of identity and displacement, as well as history and memory. Contained within seven steel trunks (of course, a direct reference to moving), this series of meditative videos takes the viewer on their own journey as they are compelled to walk around the stack to view them. Each tells its own abstract tale, mirroring the hazy way we recall and manipulate past events, merging facts and personal mythology to create a unique memory of our own past.
Empires of Memory, unveiled in March during art week, will remain in place until Ramadan when it will be replaced by a creative fashion installation by Fashion Executive, focusing on abayas, and kaftans. Last year, Art in Vida hosted four collaborations: with Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi and The Mine; Cities Boutique, who placed ceramic fruits sculptures by Bull & Stein in the lobby; publishers Assouline and Arternative spaces with a display of coffee table art and design books, and an exhibition by New York photographer Lisa Leone presented by Sole DXB.
The programme will restart after the summer when a list of future projects will be announced. For more details see VIDA-hotels.com