Meem Gallery is pleased to present Mahmoud Obaidi’s first solo exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, The Replacement, which explores the subject of political propaganda through different modes of communication and imagery. The exhibition presents over thirty works that span a range of media including sculpture, silkscreen prints and video art.
In 2003, a storage container was discovered in an unknown location in the Middle East. Stored inside were numerous boxes that held the political campaign material (believed to date from 1979 to 1983) of a now unknown man. The contents caught the eye of an art collector based in North America, who purchased the collection in an agreement that prevented him from displaying the items publicly until 2014. Last year, through a mutual friend, the collector contacted Mahmoud Obaidi so they could collaborate on an exhibition project that would recreate many of the items uncovered in 2003. The Replacement is the result of this collaboration.
With his head held high, the seemingly indomitable figure of this political ‘leader’ is repeatedly reproduced by Obaidi in campaign posters, postage stamps, banknotes and press coverage. In one work, his head is presented in a roundel, reminiscent of the ancient Roman tradition, under which foliage and a bright sun shines over a modern city. Here, he takes on an almost god-like status, reigning over and protecting his people and nation. Through this imagery, Obaidi reflects on the way in which visual material can be used to manipulate the masses in an individual’s quest for power and authority. With regard to his artistic practice, Obaidi notes that ‘Information is bigger and more important than the object and the intellectual product is the whole process.’