The exhibition In Search of Lost Time (not the Proust novel), which runs at the Brunei Gallery, in the School of Oriental & African Studies until the 19th of March, “presents work by 13 artists who seek to reframe conventional interpretations of time in the Gulf.” The Arabic title of the exhibition, Urgent Memory is apt, as the exhibition
“explores the complex relationship between image, speed and time in the Gulf, questioning the chronological and territorial notion of the region and the paradigms of its underlying identity.”
In part, the exhibition examines the tensions between nostalgia and notions of tradition and authenticity and narratives of utopia, prosperity and the construction of a Gulf modernity.
Sophia Al Maria, coined the term “Gulf futurism,” which
has since been used as a byword for the way that a generation, forced indoors thanks to the intense heat, developed a view of the future informed almost exclusively by video games and Hollywood films. However, for Al-Maria, the phrase was originally meant to refer to the way in which human life is being forced to accommodate the rampant growth of consumer and luxury culture in the region
The particular dynamics of the tradition/modernity discourse in the Gulf are the central theme in al-Maria’s memoir A Girl Who Fell To Earth (2012), which moves “between the “soggy blades of grass” of the Pacific Northwest and “the pockmarked moonscape of construction pits and cranes” in Doha. Al Maria is one of the thirteen artists in the exhibition, which also includes Abdulnasser Gharem’s brother Ajlan Gharem, Abdullah Al Saadi, Monira Al Qadiri, Jafar Islah, Mohammed Kazem, Raja’a Khalid, Sami Mohammed, Mohammad Sharaf, Hassan Sharif, Lantian Xie and Camille Zakharia. Telfaz11 is also featured.