Perpetual Inventory And Dr. O’s Pop Shop

Selections Magazine, December 31, 2022

Perpetual Inventory was conceived by Dr. Omar Kholeif during the height of global lockdown. In this period of stillness, Kholeif spent much of their time alone in archives and storage units, in and around the UAE. The proposition of Perpetual Inventory is a summoning—a way to encourage institutions of all kinds to ‘look inwards’—to consider their own histories and cultural artifacts, and the increasing significance that they have gained over time.


A project devised in collaboration with the not-for-profit, artPost21, a platform that explores the intersection of art, technology and social justice, Perpetual Inventory, takes place at The Third Line, one of Dubai’s first galleries of contemporary art. Renowned for supporting emerging artists, and apprising audiences of culture’s overlooked polymaths, The Third Line has fostered a dynamic space for art and artists, acting as a beacon for contemporary art both in the UAE and globally.


Perpetual Inventory, Volume 1 begins Kholeif’s project in their adopted home—in the heart of Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue. Unearthing crates and boxes—both physical and virtual, Kholeif has subtitled volume 1, An Exercise in Looking. Here, the curator weaves viewers through portals and gateways found in the landscapes of artists such as Anuar Khalifi and Fouad Elkoury through to the multi-dimensional drawing practice of the late, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian.


From here, the viewer’s gaze is invited to shift to the present—from science fiction to everyday realities, as elucidated in the works of artists such as, Ala Ebtekar and Arwa Abouon. From here, the exhibition unfolds into various aesthetic possibilities in the photographs of the late Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Shirin Aliabadi. Memory and memorial are explored in early portraiture by figures including Youssef Nabil, Hayv Kahraman and Laleh Khorramian, while the expressive possibilities of language are deconstructed in the work of Sophia Al Maria and Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige.


The full list of artists for Perpetual Inventory, Volume 1: An Exercise in Looking is: Ala Ebtekar, Amir H. Fallah, Anuar Khalifi, Arwa Abouon, Farah Al Qasimi, Farhad Moshiri, Fouad Elkoury, Hassan Hajjaj, Hayv Kahraman, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Jordan Nassar, Laleh Khorramian, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Shirin Aliabadi, Sophia Al Maria, Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Youssef Nabil.


Coinciding with Perpetual Inventory is a take-over of The Third Line’s shop that will manifest in the form of a living art installation, Dr. O’s Pop Shop. Developed in collaboration with UAE-based creative label, Krân, Dr. O’s Pop Shop, which recently made its premiere in Dr. Kholeif’s exhibition, My Life in the Metaverse is currently on view at Manarat Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi. At The Third Line, a new installation will be inaugurated—formed of artist-designed prints, editions, clothing, and accessories, all of which will be available for purchase. Conceived in the spirit of the late artist, Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, which opened its doors to the public in New York city in the 1980s, Dr. O’s Pop Shop, seeks to democratise art and artmaking for a wider public.


A portion of the proceeds from sales will help support the cultural makers of tomorrow through a donation made to the not-for-profit, artPost21.