Traffic

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View of the exhibition ‘The State’ p5. Photo by RK

TRAFFIC AND SATELLITE ARE NOW CLOSED. THE ORGANIZATION STILL EXISTS AND IT MAY POP UP IN A NEW IDENTITY IN THE FUTURE, BUT FOR NOW IT HAS NO PHYSICAL LOCATION. THE STATE LIVES ON.

Set up in 2007 by the Emirati Rami Farook, Traffic occupies a unique niche in Dubai as a place for artistic research, exchange and creation. It started as a hub for design (furniture e.a.) in a location behind the Mall of the Emirates, but it immediately became a fashionable place to be for the art in-crowd. In 2009 Rami Farook helped design the UAE pavilion in the Venice Biennial and won the prize for the International Young Design Entrepreneur of the year in London.

Over the years Rami Farook’s interests have shifted towards political subjects, and as the programming at Traffic shows, he has radicalized, rather than grown more moderate. In 2011 Rami opened a studio space in Alserkal Avenue called Satellite. He lets artists use this space as a studio (among the users were James Clar, Ubik and Hazem Harb) but it is regularly used for other activities including exhibitions, film screenings and talks. In early 2012 Traffic moved from the posh store location in Al Barsha to its current location in a warehouse in Al Quoz with much more space and an experimental character.

This new space evolved from being a gallery where exhibitions and other events took place to a community center, with a library, a bookstore, a lounge area, games and a busy agenda of exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, seminars and all kinds of ‘pop-up’ events where the space is temporarily taken over by groups of artists or other creative people. Rami thus responds with a lot of flexibility to the needs of Dubai’s arts community and to the opportunities present.

In this regard, Rami has provided constant support to several artists: besides James Clar, the Saudis Ayman Yossri Daydban, Abdulnasser Gharem and Ahmed Mater, several young Emirati artists and designers, the Afghan artist and curator Aman Mojadidi, the Franco-Algerian Fayçal Baghriche and others. He has also curated exhibitions; besides those in Traffic he curated the Edge of Arabia exhibition in Berlin in 2010 called ‘Grey Borders, Grey Frontiers’ (with the three mentioned Saudi artists and others) and a series of five exhibitions entitled ‘The State’ between 2010 and 2012 in his own and other spaces such as The Third Line.

In 2012 Traffic initiated a series of publications called ‘The State’ of which two volumes have appeared. They are collections of writings by artists and art professionals about art and space, or the experience of and speculation about space from an artistic perspective. The books are complemented by a lively and interesting website.

Rami Farook is a busy man but he is always interested in imaginative artistic collaboration and exchange proposals.

Written by: RobertK Last modified: 16th Jul 2013
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