Est. 2013, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
b. 1987, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lives and works in New York, NY
Khalid Al Gharaballi
b. 1981, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lives and works in Kuwait City, Kuwait
b. 1990, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lives and works in Kuwait City, Kuwait
Fatima Al Qadiri
b. 1981, Dakar, Senegal
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Monira Al Qadiri
b. 1983, Dakar, Senegal
Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Aziz Al Qatami
b. 1979, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lives and works in Kuwait City, Kuwait
b. 1985, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Lives and works in Kuwait City, Kuwait
b. 1982, Singapore
Lives and works in London, United Kingdom
GCC, an acronym that does not necessarily stand for but alludes to the Gulf Cooperation Council (the intergovernmental political and economic partnership that connects six countries in the region), is an artist “delegation” or collective composed of eight members, all of which have strong ties to the Arabian Gulf region of the Middle East. The group was formed in 2013 at Art Dubai and has since shown at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler in Berlin; Project Native Informant in London; The New Museum, Whitney Museum of Art, and MoMA PS1 in New York; Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris; 9th Berlin Biennial; Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Fridericianum in Kassel; and Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
Since its debut at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait, the group has continued to address the shifting systems of power in the Gulf region and abroad. GCC live between Kuwait, New York, Amsterdam, London, and Berlin. Apart from several summits held in Switzerland, Kuwait, France and, most recently, New York, Whatsapp is the group’s primary mode of communication.
All images © GCC.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash congratulates Atelier Aziz Alqatami of artist collective GCC and Monica Bonvicini on their inclusion in the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. The pavilion calls into question hetero-normative considerations of architectural space.
Titled GOOD MORNING GCC (.صباح الخير جي. سي. سي), this year’s edition of The Room will recreate a live TV show on site, using the tropes of daytime talk shows commonly featured on TV stations across the Arab world as an anchor for the programming, which will include daily segments such as fashion, cooking and health.
From Wednesday, March 20 – Friday, March 23, GCC’s TV studio set on Fort Island will serve as the background for a series of after-hours parties, featuring a line-up of internationally renowned DJ’s. The night events/segments will take place under the title GCC After Dark.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash congratulates GCC on their participation in Public Art Fund's 40th anniversary exhibition, Commercial Break, a citywide exhibition that celebrates and expands on the institutions commitment to media-based art work.
As part of GGC’s ongoing research in the increasingly pervasive trend of Positive Energy gaining momentum in the Gulf region, Gestures focuses on ways in which these lifestyle attitudes are appropriated, employed, and transformed as part of a greater political mechanism.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash is pleased to announce representation of artist collective GCC.
Much of the recent work of GCC–the group of artists whose eight members hail from various Persian Gulf countries, and whose name references the acronym for a regional political and economic alliance known as the Gulf Cooperation Council–has focused on the growing popularity in the area, among both governments and the wider populace, of the "positive energy" movement.
GCC: GOOD MORNING GCC uses the tropes of daytime television talk shows across the Arab world, alongside references to Nam June Paik’s [satellite broadcast] Good Morning Mr. Orwell , Glenn O’Brien’s [1978-82 public access television show] TV Party, Chris Burden’s commercials and other artists who have used television’s potential to communicate to a wider audience. Arab TV networks have popularised the talk show format—which ranges from political to conversational—and cover many of the topics we are addressing in our programme. They reflect the trends and interests of the region, while creating a sense of connectivity.
In 2013, nine Khaleeji artists founded the GCC – an art collective – in the VIP room of Art Dubai, and this year they will return to their roots. The artists will transform The Room, an installation within the art fair, into a TV studio in which they will create the daytime show Good Morning GCC. This will combine segments on Arabic cooking and fair parties with art-historical references. Comprising Fatima Al Qadiri, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Amal Khalaf, Aziz Al Qatami, Barrak Alzaid, Khalid al Gharaballi, Monira Al Qadiri, Nanu Al-Hamad and Sophia Al-Maria, the collective will examine power and economic relations in the Gulf – and how the area is perceived internationally – both mimicking and challenging stereotypes of the region’s young residents.
Even before they enter the museum, visitors to the 2017 Whitney Biennial may spot, as they peer toward Renzo Piano’s industrial edifice from Gansevoort Street, a monumental object perched on the terrace. It has the form of a large melon, is inscribed with mystical markings, and sits at the center of a concrete circle like the statue in a traffic roundabout. A creation of the art collective GCC, it is inspired by an actual melon that appeared one day in the United Arab Emirates, where police destroyed it, documenting the process on social media, to neutralize its supposed occult force. Its reincarnation in one of the world’s most prestigious exhibitions suggests that state power couldn’t kill the magic.
There are plenty of exciting works at the museum's marquee event.
Among the 63 artists featured working in various media, are established artists like Americans Larry Bell and Dana Schutz, up-and-comers like Torey Thornton and Shara Hughes, and collectives like the Gulf-based GCC and the American trio Postcommodity.
The 2017 Whitney Biennial, the institution’s first since its move to the Meatpacking District, opens to the public later this week, but already the buzz is positive.
This spring visitors to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City will be greeted by a huge orange melon looming over the sixth-floor terrace. The work—inspired by a mysterious fruit covered in occult writings that washed up on a Persian Gulf beach last fall—is by the international artist collective GCC. And it's a highlight of Whitney Biennial 2017, the major survey of new American art, opening March 17.
With NADA splitting some of the exhibitors from past years between fairs, this year’s edition seemed to tend slightly closer to the higher end of the market, as galleries frequently associated with Armory skipped that fair in favor of Independent, or doubled down on both exhibitions. Mitchell-Innes & Nash, for instance, had focused in on a booth at Independent skipping its usual place at The Armory Show and ADAA Art Show in favor of a booth here, showing works by GCC and Leigh Ledare, among others.
The show charted the flourishing popularity in the Gulf of "positive lifestyle" practices - encompassing anything from yoga and healthy eating to New Age spiritualties - as well as their instrumentalization by governments as technologies of control.
The work’s über-slick visual identity—and the very global and mostly digitally connected nature of GCC’s delegates—has placed GCC among the post-internet art movement’s greatest stars. “GCC keeps knocking it out of the park,” says the Whitney’s Christopher Lew of the collective, who he’s tapped for a new commission for the 2017 Whitney Biennial he’s curating along with Mia Locks. Referencing Positive Pathways (+), he adds, “As mindfulness and new age belief has been adopted by both individuals and corporations, GCC brings to light how the Gulf nations have brought these ideas into government. Their look at the theater and substance of nationhood is pressing now more than ever.”
With its Mitchell-Innes & Nash show, GCC has become like a healer, drawing on the healthy living and positive lifestyle trends currently taking the Gulf region by storm. Positive Pathways (+) (Version II), 2016, an installation similar to one that debuted at this year’s DIS-curated Berlin Biennale, features a sculpture performing the Quantum Touch technique, a form of non-contact touch therapy. (A few days earlier, the members could be seen putting down sand around the sculpture, which, when it was shown in Berlin, was at the center of a teardrop-shaped racetrack.) Nearby is a series of relief works based on stills from YouTube videos that, with their velvety red surfaces, recall fabrics in Titian paintings and over-decorated homes.
GCC is a collective of eight young Arab artists — their name refers to an intergovernmental body called the Gulf Cooperative Council — and their work in “Positive Pathways (+)” at Mitchell-Innes & Nash was inspired by the growing popularity, in the Gulf states, of Western-style New Age healing systems. A hypnotically confident self-help voice-over plays in the gallery, and a nearly life-size plaster figure of a woman wearing a head scarf bends over a figure of a boy. We learn from the publicity release that she’s practicing Quantum Touch therapy, a reiki-like practice that uses the body’s life-force energy to promote wellness.
“We wanted to make a work about the late-blooming New Age culture of the Gulf,” GCC explained via a group-sanctioned e-mail, “and how it is affecting everyone in the region, from conservative housewives to absolute monarchs toying with start-up culture.” The collective’s first Stateside gallery solo show is on view this month at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, in New York, reprising the Berlin installation alongside new work derived from YouTube videos of, among other things, modern-day healers on morning talk shows “making holistic remedies and products out of supermarket items.”
GCC’s first exhibition with the gallery, which features multiple wall pieces, a sculptural installation, and sound work, is concerned with the evolution of various holistic practices—such as alternative healing and life coaching—that are gaining significant influence in Arab Gulf states. The eight artists who make up the collective are all strongly connected to the UAE and the Middle East, and their acronym loosely references that of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Here, they examine the multifocused, multifaceted synthesis of philosophies that fall under the rubric of “Positive Lifestyle” and the implications such Western, New Age ideas have in the context of the Gulf’s ultramodern, constitutionally Islamic societies.
While the power of positive thinking—a popular if fuzzily defined lifestyle credo coined by author Norman Vincent Peale—is a familiar idea to most Americans, the slogan (if not the concept) is largely unknown in the Middle East. In its Mitchell-Innes & Nash debut, the six-member Arab artist “delegation” GCC (an allusion to the Gulf Cooperation Council) focuses on the growth of Cali-style personal realization in its part of the world—and what may get lost in translation. It’s an intriguing subject, but while this exhibition expands on a previous project for the most recent Berlin Biennale, it still barely scrapes the surface.
“An ever-intensifying exposure to Western-centric global media has dulled the effect of existing taboos in the Gulf region,” the eight-member international art collective GCC — a tongue-in-cheek reference to the economic alliance known as the Gulf Cooperation Council — says in a joint statement. “As a result, a number of people there have become proponents of New Age lifestyles, whereas even 10 years ago, many would have probably disapproved of this and even deemed some aspects sacrilegious.”
“The idea of happiness is insidiously used to quell dissent,” GCC member Fatima Al Qadiri told me on the exhibition’s opening day on Thursday, at New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash. According to the party line among the powers that be, if you’re unhappy, never mind actual social problems, she said: “You’re just not being positive!”
“Positive Pathways (+),” an exhibition of works by artist collective GCC, will be on display at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York from October 13 through November 26.