In previous works, Abbas Akhavan has examined the domestication of nature, reflected in gardens and parks, as an extension of a settler colonial logic of progress manifest through expansion of the built environment. For SB13, he draws our attention upward—the direction most associated with futurity—in three interrelated works that explore this particular spatio-temporal order through gestures of aerial projection and perspective.
In conjunction with his other work Variations on a Garden (2017), Akhavan explores the poetic and political dimensions of an aerial vantage point in two works in Al Mureijah Square. Presented in Al Hamdan Bin Mousa Courtyard, Envelope (2017) is a decommissioned hot air balloon that is occasionally inflated with buoyant air. The work takes its name from the impermeable nylon-polyester panels used for the balloon. Capable of rising over 20,000 metres high, the balloon is seen here in a recurring process of rise and fall, suggesting a long historical view of civilisation as well as the cycle of breath.
This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 13.
Hot air balloon, dimensions variable
Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 13
Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation