Dazed Digital

Dubai / العربية

Empire II

July 4, 2011

The premiere of an independent art film shot in Dubai and continuing on from Andy Warhol's 1964 piece Empire

  • Text by Simone Sebastian

Tonight will mark the premiere of an independent feature entitled "Empire II" at the Pavillion, produced in collaboration with Brusselssprout, a local arts publication engaged in critical thinking. Satellite Voices caught up Brusselssprout’s Blanca Lopez ahead of the premiere to find out more about both the magazine and film.

Satellite Voices: Tell us about Brusselssprout and the editorial team putting the publication together. Are most of the contributors Dubai-based?
Blanca Lopez: Most of the editorial team is currently based in Dubai, living and working here for the last five years. The magazine was founded as a mechanism to react to the perplexity of the contemporary artistic production and the sense of post-2001 dislocation and bewilderment, increased after the 2008 crisis. A great abundance, but restricted to museum / curator / gallery. The process of homogenisation (and therefore the decrease) in all settings is very visible. 

Brusselssprout is an initiative that involves cultural and artistic self-production to fills gaps (personal or collective) in whichever contemporary scene it latches onto, without any hesitance or complexes.

SV: The first three issues have been squarely focused on Dubai - acting as a 'Dubai Manifesto' - what is planned for the next issue(s)? 
Blanca Lopez: We’re already preparing issue four, which will be an issue without any images, only characters. We can’t say any more because between now and when it’s finished, we’ll have changed it at least five times.

SV: As a non-commercial publication operating out of the city, what are some of the challenges the editorial team have had to face putting out each issue? 
Blanca Lopez: The challenges that we face are mostly internal: to organise ourselves and find time. We've actually spent more than a year on the production of issue number three, The Graphic Encyclopedia. Just as we launched the first chapter of the manifesto, we started working on the selection of items to document and process.

SV: Tonight will mark the premiere of "Empire II" an homage to Andy Warhol's 1964 film "Empire". What kind of audience do you expect at the screening and how do you think they will respond to the film? 
Blanca Lopez: We are curious to see how the audience will react with such conceptual piece. Ignacio Gomez, the editor-in-chief, and Camille Mallat, a filmmaker, will do before the screening a presentation, that it is very important to create the link between the Empire State and Burj Khalifa and Manhattan to Dubai.

"Empire II" is not exactly an homage to Andy Warhol’s 1964 "Empire", it is the continuation of the Warhol work: creation of non-media as media, film as non-film. The film concentrates on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower for six hours with the only narrative being the tracking of time from daylight to nightfall. It is all about the Empire State Building and Burj Khalifa, not about Andy.

The film is part of our Dubai Manifesto, and it needs to be understood in its context. With "Empire II", through the use of obsolete media, object feature film, we wanted to present a tool of fantasy and myth. At the end, King Kong and Tom Cruise are not so far from each other.

Empire II will be screened daily through July at The Pavilion @

Emaar Blvd, Dubai

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