Guide to Al Khan
artist Lara Almarcegui
location UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, Al Khan
region 1 North (North)
index no. 16.1.01
about the media Description of the abandoned fishing village of Al Khan.
about the project Al Khan is an abandoned fishing village. It is located near the city of Sharjah, the capital of one of the seven United Arab Emirates with the same name. Al Khan is currently being swallowed up by the rapidly expanding city of Sharjah. There is more new building going on here than in most other parts of the Emirates. The fishing village is being taken over by the building activities. The parts that still remain are abandoned, demolished or in ruins.
In the Guide to Al Khan, Lara Almarcegui describes the village in its current state, a state that has not yet entirely succumbed to spatial planning. Almarcegui relied on the memories of former residents of Al Khan for the history of the buildings and their occupants. She states, for example: ‘[…] a single building remains of the house of Nasser bin Saeed bin Jarsh, made of stone laid in the traditional diagonal pattern with one corner torn apart, the result of archaeological probing. […]’
The first residents settled in Al Khan around 1820, they came in search of a better climate and better land – Al Khan does not have a long history. Almarcegui is fascinated by the current ‘empty’ state of Al Khan, a place that is open to all sorts of possibilities, where people can feel free and nature is thriving. In all probability, only a few houses will be conserved and most of Al Khan will be torn down.
This project was realised for the ‘Sharjah Biennal 8: Still Life. Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change’. The Sharjah Biennial is organised by the Culture and Information Department of the Emirate of Sharjah and was held for the first time in 1993. In 2007 the Biennial opened the entire city of Sharjah to artists for the creation of new site-specific work.
about artist and participants Lara Almarcegui (Saragossa, 1972) studied at Ateliers 63 in Amsterdam from 1997-1999. She lives and works in Rotterdam. Almarcegui feels drawn to empty spaces, such as building sites and urban allotments. She is fascinated by the absence of rules and structures in such places.
Almarcegui: ‘I track down the empty spaces in a city and publish guides about them, highlighting the interesting aspects of each wasteland, describing it carefully as a place different from the rest of the city. […] I would like to see all the empty lots left open and untouched for as long as possible.’
The project curators were Eva Scharrer, Mohammed Kazem and Jonathan Watkins.