Abbas Akhavan: Islands

Courtesy The Third Line

The Third Line in Dubai presents Islands – Abbas Akhavan’s first solo exhibition in the region.  According to The Third Line, Akhavan’s site specific installation visualizes the connections between the art world/art market and the world’s economy.  Akhavan positions this global economic theme within Dubai – mapping the city directly onto the gallery walls.

In Islands, Akhavan paints a series of aerial maps that do not portend accuracy, but instead utilize humor and imagination.  The maps incorporate the most recognizable imagery associated with Dubai’s landscape, architecture, culture and economy.  The artist highlights everything from man-made islands to palm trees in faux gold leaf.  The use of faux gold leaf is not only visually striking, but underscores Dubai’s gold trade and economic excess.

Courtesy The Third Line

The most compelling aspect of Akhavan’s installation is that it openly relies upon the art collector’s participation.  Islands will be altered throughout its duration as art collectors purchase various parts of the map.  Each purchased area of the map will be visually sectioned off and selected parts moved or removed.  The art collector becomes a pseudo-land owner, illustrating the way that the art world mirrors real world economics.  Through Akhavan’s work we see that geography is profoundly divided, altered and remapped through the all-powerful market transaction.

Abbas Akhavan currently resides in Toronto and is represented by The Third Line.  He was born in Tehran and has lived in Canada since 1992.  Akhavan received his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Concordia University and a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia.  He works in a variety of media including paint, installation, video/performance and site-specific ephemeral work.  Akhavan teaches in Vancouver at both the Emily Carr University of Fine Art and Design and the University of British Columbia.  His work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally – at spaces that include Artspeak (Canada), the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art (Aalborg, Denmark) and Uplands Gallery (Australia).

Courtesy The Third Line

Abbas Akhavan’s Islands will be on view at The Third Line in Dubai from 6 May through 10 June 2010.  A preview will be held Wednesday, 5 May from 7.30 to 9.30 pm at The Third Line Gallery, Al Quoz 3.