Empty Quarter Gallery (Dubai), 2010
Photographies: Tor Siedel
Publisher: Hate Cantz
Linenback softcover with silver wrapping, 20.5 × 28.6 cm
What is a city? An accumulation of houses, a central location where people live, where people come together, where there are social, political, and normative structures. It is an outdoor space enveloping numerous interior spaces, a shell aroud the personal, split up into many individual destinies. What is a picture? A finite detail, flat, which points to something lying outside its scope; it illustrates something that does or does not exist, perhaps because it originates in the artist`s imagination. It is a self-contained entity, invented to be viewed, by whomsoever. Well, a picture of a city appears at first sight to reproduce a part of its reality insofar as it involves a photographic image. It is a mirror, held aloft by the photographer in order to capture his view of the surface. To what extent a defamiliarization process takes place as a result of the selection of technical means, and how great the degree of this rejection of the authentic is, ultimately makes no difference.
Tor Seidel`s Dubai pictures reference the city that calls itself Dubai: a complex and confusing metropolis that shimmers between enormous advertisements for a more beautiful future, globally unique architectural icons, and halted large-scale construction projects that recede into its own sea of glittering lights – along with a skyline that can seemingly be assembled like building blocks on a carpet of desert sand. Tor Seidel sounds out this intermediate space ans unmasks its inherent empty promises when he depicts towering concrete stumps and weathered billboards, opulent entrance gates leading somewhere or other, and iridescent new structures built on sand, when he places views of the city against views of a model of this city, or when he simply shows automobiles driving around a group of skyscrapers through the image field curvature like on a slot car racing track. His pictures point to the self-perception of Dubai, to the idea of a prosperous metropolis. Can Dubai redeem this idea?…The artist titled his series The Dubai, analogue to The Palm, that spectacular gargantuan project on the Persian Gulf at Dubai made up of artificial palm-leaf-shaped islands.