(1) Sara Naim, Form 1, 2018. C-type digital print, wood, plexiglass, 70 x 84 cm. (2) Jordan Nassar, Memories, 2018. Hand embroidered cotton on cotton, 85.09 x 91.44 cm. Courtesy of the artists and The Third Line, Dubai.

Sara Naim and Jordan Nassar

The Third Line, Dubai / UAE

January 16–February 27, 2019
January 9, 2019

Opening: January 16, 7–9pm

The Third Line
Al Quoz 1

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Gallery 1
Sara Naim: Building Blocks

The Third Line is pleased to present Building Blocks, Sara Naim’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Extending the artist’s preoccupation with micro images and dichotomies between proximity and distance into an examination of memory and cognitive associations, Building Blocks maps the cellular make up of three elements nostalgic to the artist: jasmine, soil and Aleppo soap.

Triggers of olfactory memories sourced from Sara’s native Syria, the protagonists of her latest body of work awaken thoughts of things and places she associates with the realm of the familiar, yet also perceives as foreign.

Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, Sara captures the cellular structure of each sample, magnifies it, and reveals its complexity through imagery mounted on wood and plexiglass. The large-scale renditions include deliberate glitches such as formal distortions, light leaks or reticle cross-lines—interferences that further abstract the works and hint at the imperfection of memory and thus of human nature.

Titled Forms, the sculptural works exist in a variation of more or less organic shapes that imitate topographies Sara randomly encounters during her scanning journey. The process is illustrated by a short film that places the viewer’s eyes in front of the microscope as its lens explores the relief of all three samples morphed into one. Ensues the uneasy realization that coming closer is here synonymous with grasping less.

Conversely, one of the elements magnified in the Forms series, the Aleppo soap, morphs from micro to macro, as soap brick structures are erected on the gallery’s floor. In part broken, cut and fragmented, the towers’ intentional defaults imitate glitches witnessed on Sara’s photographs. Their carefully orchestrated arrangement, on the other hand, performs a cellular analogy to the building blocks of life and further intimates the vastness of the microscopic universe extant within us.

Gallery 2
Jordan Nassar: For Your Eyes

For Your Eyes is Jordan Nassar’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. Also marking the artist’s debut in the Gulf region, For Your Eyes brings to question the effects of diaspora on cultural and mnemonic identity through the various formal and conceptual layers of a new series of hand-embroidered works.

Executed in collaboration with craftswomen living and working in Hebron, where embroidery skills have been passed down for generations, the patterned works juxtapose local traditions of making with Jordan’s western painterly aesthetic. Such incongruous stylistic coexistence metaphorically embodies the contrast between what Jordan refers to as his "Palestinian-ness" and his out-of-place feeling while in Palestine.

From intricate geometric grids sewn by the Hebron women on areas of the canvas predetermined by Jordan, sprout up multicolored landscape patches embroidered by the artist. Unrestrained by color palette, the craftswomen lay the foundations of Jordan’s kaleidoscopic panoramas, in which randomness of color selection gives way to an evident complementarity and the impression that Jordan does, in fact, belong.

Echoing efforts to map out reliefs of his identity and the difficulty such enterprise entails, are the titles of the show and works. Named after Umm Kulthum songs, the English renditions refer to lost in translation moments when literal meaning takes over the idiomatic one, often leading to an incomplete, and sometimes even inaccurate, understanding of cultural artifacts.

“In Arabic, the song 'For Your Eyes' is an expression meaning something along the lines of 'just for you' (because you asked, because I love you, because you're beautiful, because your eyes are beautiful I'll do what you ask). But it's translated as For Your Eyes, which doesn't capture the romance, love, and actual significance of this phrase,” explains Jordan about the lag in translation. While one cannot always translate sentiments, the collaborative works in For Your Eyes sow the seeds to perhaps one day reap a complete own, rooted, persona.