Negative Heaps (of designated waste), 2015

Porcelain tiles
Dimensions variable
Commissioned by H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan

Underpass walls in the UAE are often decorated with cultural iconography that celebrates nationalistic pride. These designs are fabricated through a laborious process, wherein unique shapes are cut out from rectangular porcelain tiles, at a local factory using a water jet cutter machine. A certain amount of tile wastage is generated with the introduction of these vernacular cultural diagrams into this modernist grid. This excess or negative tile pieces never make it to the public walls of the tunnel, but bear an inverted narrative of ideological mismatch, iconographic urban design and consumption.

This project focuses on the West underpass that connects DIFC and Business Bay in Dubai, which is being tiled with a mashrabiya pattern. The waste tiles from a small area (section LHS Unit-27, portion 1,2,3,4, approx. area 80m²) were collected in individual heaps as each cluster of tiles was being cut at the factory. Placed in reference to the order of the design grid, the work pauses upon a peculiar sight of the UAE that one repeatedly speeds by.

This project was commissioned by H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, for the show ‘A Public Privacy’ curated by Mohammed Kazem and Cristiana de Marchi. The artist would like to thank Sai Karthik (Dutco Balfour Beatty), Charbel Abi Abboud (Lever L.L.C.), Faisal Abdul Hakkim (Lever L.L.C.), Sagar Abdul Hakkim (Lever L.L.C.), Lambert Carlose (Lever L.L.C.) and Waleed Francis (Lever L.L.C.), for their logistic support. Special thanks to The Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship, Campus Art Dubai, Salwa Mikdadi, Murtaza Vali, Kevin Jones, Mohammed Kazem and Cristiana de Marchi.

2018 © Vikram Divecha