“I feel uninspired,” repeats Jumairy‘s affected voice on ‘S/\MsS0NG’, which soundtracks the exhibition BRZ5. Dedicated to the lost memory of a smartphone, the Dubai-based artist’s words are recited almost ceremonially. In the midst of objects, perfumes and poetic texts written by the Jumairy’s grandfather, the exhibition takes on a ritualistic air, inspired by the United Arab Emirates’ funerary traditions. BRZ5 will be inaugurated on December 16 at Milan’s FARE, ending Jumairy’s residence, along with participation in the exhibition from Carlo Antonelli, Tomaso De Luca, Anna Franceschini, Sofia Ginevra Giannì, Invernomuto, Jacopo Miliani. All of them characterised the time that Jumairy spent during his residency.
Ragazzi, the title of BRZ5 is a contraction of the word ‘Barzakh’ — an Arabic term denoting a barrier, or limbo, between the worlds of the physical and the spiritual, life and death, where the soul waits for resurrection on Qiyamah (Judgement Day). As a few torches illuminate black and white images that were obtained from Jumairy’s smartphone during a previous stay in Milan, traces of a restored parallel life drain together with the batteries of the torches, and the psychological processes of grief are moved across another barrier — that from the human mind to mechanisms of an external memory.
Jumairy connects his studies of psychology to an experimentation with sound, producing sensory experiences that, as well as traversing al-Barzakh, also spread from real space to the internet, expressed through performative acts, scientific experiments and mysterious rituals occurring on stage, big screen and smartphone apps. The imagery is infused with a dark psychedelia and his Arabic electro-pop is intertwined with the sonic mannerisms of shock rock. Indeed, many of Jumairy’s works deal with traumas, both personal and collective. With ‘The Sleepless Pe-Tal’ (2016), a recent project commissioned by Art Dubai and Delfina Foundation, the artist addressed insomnia as an expression of social anxiety in competitive, market-oriented environments.
For BRZ5, write Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, “Jumairy has transformed the rooms of an apartment into his personal Barzakh, a labyrinthine antechamber to celebrate a vigil: the passage between childhood and adulthood, memory and amnesia, insomnia and lucid dreaming. A domestic space is covered by a dense darkness, fragmented only by some rays of light from a few torches. Looking carefully in their direction it is possible to distinguish some black and white images, not entirely decodable: these are the last remains extracted from the smartphone the artist took with him during his first residency in Milan and broke forever on that occasion”.**