A leading figure in the ‘second generation’ of contemporary artists in the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Kazem has developed an artistic practice that encompasses video, photography and performance. Initially trained as a painter under the tutelage of his close friend and collaborator Hassan Sharif, Kazem subsequently identified with a more conceptual and formally experimental approach, often characterised by the use of repeating formats or series.
Consisting of nine photographic prints, Tongue (1994) documents Kazem performing the same action on a number of household objects. He uses his tongue as a playful motif to anchor a series of vignettes, creating awkward and at times humorous physical contortions with his body through the act of suggestion. Kazem approaches the inner rim of a bottle, the opening in a tube holding a roll of string, and the hole on an attachable broom head, among other items. Like gathering information, or simply becoming acquainted, he explores these inanimate, everyday objects with a new sensorial rapport. Intuitive and efficient in their transmission, the playful close-ups taken from various angles invoke curiosity, discomfort, and at times, even laughter. Using satire, Tongue portrays the new ‘objects’ of domestic life and our close relationships to them, proposing a possible reflection on a time of rapid increase in the UAE’s economic and urban development.