I often wondered if the artists had spent much time in the economic centre of the United Arab Emirates.Instead, projecting a distorted image, removed and re-blogged, via a visual meme of astronomical 21st wealth set to a backdrop of ancient tradition; a future-world dystopia of extreme incongruity that Gulf artists – Fatima Al Qadiri, Sophia Al Maria, Khalid Al Gharaballi –promoted and popularised.Going beyond and becoming sound, Ferraro’s Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Ibn Battuta: these are just three impressions of almost 70 shopping centres of the UAE city where I spent days wandering and watching, listening and recording the sound of hyper-capital made material, Zizek’s consumerism taken to its logical consequence.Those experiences bleed into one another, my memory of them becoming as gauzy as the haze of an afternoon glimpsed through the front window of an unmanned train, light reflected and refracted on skyscrapers in Business Bay; oily glass spires caked with dust from up close, becoming a knife-like golden-brown huddle from a distance. A Lebanese insurance broker, sweaty under his blazer, tie loosened, he breaks my daydream with words set apart from the incremental cut-and-paste station announcements.This is Mall of the Emirates, where shopping “is just the beginning”, a pre-recorded call to prayer fracturing the choir of commerce at intervals.
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