The Third Line presents Farah Al Qasimi’s exhibition “Coming Up Roses” as part of its Summer 2016 programming. Exploring ideals of beauty, femininity and desire, the new series of photographs and video develops a performative vocabulary exploring the universal quest for independence, and the unease of women entering adulthood.
Farah’s practice over the years has moved fluidly between private and public spaces, but the content has primarily remained focused on specific narratives associated with offbeat individuals or locations. She also explores how consumer culture seduces people, particularly women, with promises of beauty or self-improvement – in this case, looking at widespread use of products such as skin bleaching creams and coloured contact lenses in the Middle East.
“Coming Up Roses” captures the balance, or lack thereof, of the interdependence between this culture and young people; the portraits move between visibility and invisibility, with figures being abstracted, obfuscated or revealed as a play on conventional portraiture. Within these images, actions are privileged over the clarity of the figure, with movement and tension offered as forms of expression and, simultaneously, relief from the vulnerability of being looked at. The individuals seem enraptured in a world that is rich and colorful but also deeply dark and humorous. Although carefully planned, the snapshot moment effect – quick, accidental and sometimes bizarre – conveys a sense of juvenescence, fantasy and promise, anchoring itself in social commentary that is both witty and satirical.