Pulp Fiction in the Middle East

A British art duo brought pulp fiction into the Arab world and raised money for UAE’s fight against coronavirus.

In March 2020, Time Out Dubai announced that the British art duo, The Connor Brothers, were to have their very first exhibition in the Middle East, featuring ten special art pieces from their Pulp Fiction series. This would also be the first time the artists have incorporated another language into their work. Consisting of artists James Golding and Mike Snelle, who, since 2014, have gained recognition across the world for their ‘unmistakable style’ of expressive slogans against pop culture backdrops – taking inspiration from popular and historical culture images and inscribing their artwork with thought-provoking slogans such as, “I never let the truth get in the way of a good story”, and “Maybe it’s not about a happy ending maybe it’s about the story”. For Golding and Snelle, no topic is ever off-limits when it comes to artistic exploration and expression. “Very early on we used humor as a means of softening the edges of really complicated things,” James Golding told Euronews. “We always make a joke no matter how dark the topic and I think that has carried on throughout the work. It’s often a little bit dark but it also has a good sense of humor.”

Copyright artwork “Saints & Sinners” by The Connor Brothers

Copyright artwork “if you’ve got a skeleton in your closet then you’d better make it dance” by The Connor Brothers

Copyright artwork “christ, now what?” by The Connor Brothers

Initially scheduled to take place in Dubai’s artistic quarter, Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz during the International art fair, Art Dubai, the exhibition was shifted online to the Proscenium Arts Gallery due to the coronavirus restrictions. Here, their art pieces, in Arabic and English, were sold to the Middle-East. “We were more than happy to go ahead and do something in a format that we’ve not done before,” explained Golding. This venture was successful upon the donation of twenty percent of their earnings to the United Arab Emirate’s Community Solidarity Fund against COVID-19 which provides humanitarian and logistical assistance to blue-collar laborers who have no financial means to return home after their work projects in Dubai have ended.

CEO of Proscenium Arts gallery in Emirates, Jasper Hope, told CULT for Euronews how even though people generally don’t want to leave the house, they don’t necessarily want to stop enjoying art and, rather, want to be made aware of new artwork being created. He went on to say that to him, it is important to think that “creativity is still alive”. Mike Snelle informed that each place they showcase their work in always has a different kind of engagement and response than others. Hence, the virtual showing had them excited, albeit a “bit upset” because they like to be present during their exhibitions in order to observe the responses firsthand. Golding expressed how he hoped that this pandemic situation would just be a “temporary chapter” which brings something “positive and crazy” out of it.

The Connor Brothers James Golding and Mike Snelle. Copyright image by Saskia Uppenkamp

In response to the online exhibition of The Connor Brothers at Proscenium Art Gallery, CEO Hope explained how although a virtual art gallery would not be the exact same as physically visiting one, he believed that for the time-being, it would work well enough to “fill the void”. He went on to compare the same to music – another form of art that people prefer to experience in person – and how when people can’t be in the same room where the show is happening, they settle for something else. Likewise, they have employed technology to bring art online – to not lose the feeling of experiencing art, up close, but also as a temporary solution – because the situation too, he believes, will be temporary.

 

 

Featured Image Via Unsplash

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Fragmented reveries, scribbled quotes in foreign languages, ink-stained fingers, and cautious doodles in my journal; I believe in "nihil sub sole novum" —there is nothing new under the sun— so I write to better what exists.

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