Dazed Digital


An Art Intervention From An Anonymous Artist

June 22, 2012

In a city starved of independent public art, we explore a guerrilla sticker project by the mysterious artist also behind a wave of textual graffiti

  • Text by Simone Sebastian

In March of last year, Satellite Voices was the first to focus on a series of messages that were starting to appear around the city. The messages ranged from the surreal to the sublime, and always appeared on temporary structures such as scaffolding and fencing. The artist, it would seem, was mindful not to destroy public property. Or perhaps these surfaces, all remnants of the city’s construction boom, were a part of the messages themselves? 

In a few short months, the messages had made their way across the neighbourhoods of Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, TECOM and Al Barsha. A few were even spotted as far afield as Sharjah, a neighbouring Emirate about an hour’s drive away. Residents started to flood twitter and facebook feeds with phone camera images. Local publications ran opinion pieces on the tags – public art or public nuisance? Through it all, the messages continued to appear around the city, signed with just a crudely drawn triangle.

Now, more than a year later, the anonymous artist behind the tags has emailed Satellite Voices with information on their newest public art intervention. In order to keep the identity of the artist(s) secret – graffiti and unlicensed public art is highly illegal in this city after all – we decided to quote directly from the email we received from “A.B”.

“I’m writing to let you know about a street art project I did in Dubai a few weeks ago. It was basically an advertising intervention (which) turned existing 3D and photographic renderings of the upcoming metro station into modified artworks by implementing text from old tags via custom made stickers.... 

The intervention runs from the closest metro station to the Dubai Mall shopping center, leading all the way into one of the actual entrances of the mall. The idea behind the intervention was basically to evoke in consumers / commuters (both residing and tourists) an intermission of self-reflection (and conscious realisation) while on route to or departing from the Mall, which fittingly, is the largest retail consumer shopping center on Earth. 

Approximately 35 stickers were implemented which […] unofficially turned the area into a temporary outdoor art exhibition. The stickers are/were removable, and it was a pleasant surprise to find out that despite that, many of them are still there.

I’m writing to you because there really are no publications in this city / country that record these type of things, and being the only one doing this stuff with sometimes only a handful of other friends, I really don’t want it to be undocumented and lost.

I haven't approached anyone else in the U.A.E in relation to this yet because I know you have been covering some of the public texts I / we have been doing in the city for a while now, and thought that you would be the right person to approach with this type of thing first because the support really has been dearly appreciated."

Check arcadioan.tumblr for more documentation of the public intervention project as well as the city messages.  

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