Passages through Passages is a survey exhibition of spatial, technical and cultural imaginations cultivated by CAMP’s work in the past two decades. It comes together at a time of ongoing pandemic and burgeoning nationalisms worldwide when some paths have disappeared and horizons have receded, and when the world needs to be imagined anew.
Created between 2006 and 2021, these projects draw upon the group’s unique artistic approaches: the use of technologies as embedded geo-political media, their actualisation of concepts such as leak, neighbour, footage and archive, and the persistence over time of so many of their projects and intersubjective interests. CAMP deals in the longue-duree of technological methods, while somehow also retaining the surprise and lightness of the unexpected way forward like in, as they like to say, the cut in film.
The title of the exhibition talks about movement and its context. Its medium, like the ship, but also the forces that push and pull at it, and what art does here as a kind of embodied explorer crawling through the passages and rearranging them. They rarely do this alone, CAMP’s work has collaboration of diverse types as its starting point, as the Arabic title of the exhibition tells us, al rafiq qabla al tarikh— comrade before journey.
The things that move in interesting ways in this exhibition include: exhibitions themselves, as in the ‘Annotated Gujarat and the Sea Exhibition’ (2011), newspaper images that have found new neighbours in A Photogenetic Line (2019), or the faceted subcontinental movements of A Passage through Passages (2020). The things that don’t or can’t move include the people in Al Jaar Qabla al Daar (2011), or the camera in Bombay Tilts Down (2021), and a certain member of CAMP. They do not move, but they move us.
On the ground floor which is dedicated to maritime worlds, the exhibition also features From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf (2009–2013), a film project commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation Production Programme, and two other Sharjah-based projects, the book Wharfage and Radio Meena, recipients of the grand jury prize at Sharjah Biennial 9 (2009). The upper floor has a cybernetic lineage, although enmeshed in regional contexts, from Afghanistan to Palestine.
CAMP: Passages through Passages is curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi.