MENAlab 2011 | Discovering Al Quoz

tasmena & thejamjar invite you to participate

1 October - 13 December 2011

‘MENAlab 2011 | Discovering Al Quoz’: A new phase in tasmena’s Ongoing MENAlab Project takes place this Autumn.

This October, design association tasmena, in collaboration with creative space thejamjar, will launch a new phase of the ongoing MENAlab 2011 project with the aim of ‘Discovering Al Quoz’.  Through a series of activities from October to December, thejamjar and tasmena invite the UAE’s community to engage with the visually rich Al Quoz district, building towards an understanding of the complex cultural fabric of this neighbourhood.  thejamjar, which is based in Al Quoz, will provide a project base within the neighbourhood and will also host a series of accompanying talks to the project.

‘MENAlab 2011 | Discovering Al Quoz’ will begin with an info session to explain the project on 1st October 2011, 7.00pm at thejamjar.  This will talk people through the various stages of ‘Discovering Al Quoz’, from the Discovery Walks to becoming a MENAlab tutor, and will also serve to introduce people to the vibrant area of Al Quoz.

In the past few years the industrial district of Al Quoz has established itself as an unlikely art centre in Dubai, with more and more galleries nestling within its warehouses, including thejamjar.  Aside from this, a diverse range of companies have flocked to the area, from creative agencies, to design stores, to car showrooms, to cement factories.  This district is also a home to many and bears the signs of domestic life in the colourful lines of flapping laundry marking hotel staff accommodation blocks, and the long established homes of Emirati families, veteran residents of Al Quoz 1.  

Through the Discovery Walks on the 8th and 15th October 2011, that will follow the info session, participants will explore these diverse and often surprising elements of Al Quoz for themselves.  As Yunsun Chung-Shin, Director of tasmena comments, “Al Quoz is another ‘Extreme Locality’ in Dubai in its appearance, sounds, textures and flavours.  The Discovery Walks create the opportunity to engage with this area and its community and peel back its different layers, sparking ideas to initiate design.  This is part of the wider aim of the ‘MENAlab 2011’ project to reconnect people with their city and understand the relations between city, people and culture”.

Starting out from thejamjar, participants will traverse Al Quoz during two hour long walks, recording the journey through mapping, photography and other digital media, notes and collecting.  People will then meet back at thejamjar to briefly discuss the findings.  The Discovery Walks are open to anyone interested and people are free to come along not only on foot, but on bikes, skateboards and rollerblades.  People can register for the walks by emailing info@tasmena.net and info kits containing maps will also be available from thejamjar so that people can do their own Al Quoz walks between 8th – 28th October, prior to the Al Quoz Route workshop.

Taking place on 29th October, 2011, the Al Quoz Route workshop will allow people to share information collected on the walks and start to suggest routes.  Following on from this will be an open submission process from 29th October to 19th November, 2011, for members of the UAE’s community to suggest labs and routes based on what they feel are the key areas which embody Al Quoz.  Suggested labs should start to manifest insight into Al Quoz and may even highlight areas for social and urban growth.  From the suggested labs, four will be selected to take place on the 9th and 10th December.  This will be followed by MENAlab presentations on 13th December, 2011.

The ongoing MENAlab 2011 project sees tasmena and thejamjar continue to foster their relationship, which was initiated earlier this year when thejamjar hosted the interactive exhibition ‘Shifting Scales’ and a series of talks around ‘MENAlab 2011 | Cutting Through the City’.  Rachael Brown, Head of Special Projects at thejamjar, says, “Al Quoz has been a home to thejamjar for many years now and we have always been committed to changing perceptions of this dynamic area.  Through projects that foster community engagement our activities and initiatives like ArtintheCity have encouraged a culturally aware audience to venture into Al Quoz, in particular the ArtBus, of which the most popular route has become Al Quoz.  Our collaboration with tasmena is the perfect opportunity to work further towards understanding the neighbourhood and how its communities can integrate.”

Join us on 1st October, 7pm at thejamjar and find out how you can be involved in ‘Discovering Al Quoz’. For more information, please email info@tasmena.net