Team TMN caught up with Dubai-based artist, Jim Wheat, to find out what’s in store for his upcoming INTERGALACTIC$ exhibition, that launches at Media One Hotel on March 2, 2014… 

Last year’s exhibition caused quite a stir by addressing day-to-day experiences in Dubai, as well as questioning what money means to people. Can we expect something similar with INTERGALACTIC$?
INTERGALACTIC$ is more of a celebration of the UAE’s achievements, such as the Khalifa Sat project to send a rocket into space in 2017. One piece that is an example of these achievements, celebrates the Dubai 2020 Expo bid alongside a retro 2000 A.D. annual, 20 pence pieces from the U.K, and an original 1980 VIC 20 computer.

Can you give us a hint of what will be included in the new collection?
The collection largely includes science fiction and technology, and how they have all been affected and challenged by commercialisation. I aim to reveal elements of my personal journey from a world where little was known of technology or space travel, to today, where technology has made the dreams of yesteryear a reality.

The influence of the dollar remains prevalent after the success of your last exhibition ‘The Money Collection’ in 2013 – what was the inspiration for your new collection?
The inspiration for my new collection came from an exploration into the influences I had growing up, from Star Wars and Star Trek, to my first gaming experience on the Atari 2600 and owning my first computer – a ZX spectrum, 48 k no less. I hope it speaks to a lot of people about the ‘throw-away’ society we live in, but will also bring some nostalgic memories whilst showcasing the latest technology.

What crowd are you expecting to attract?
From tech enthusiasts to nostalgic expatriates, those who work in and around Media City to tourists passing through Dubai, as well as families at weekends, everyone is welcome.

What do you hope that people will take away from the exhibition?
Putting together collectable items from the 1970s and 80s really hit home to me about how times and technology have changed – what astounded us a decade or two ago is taken for granted now. Art is all about getting a reaction, and hopefully inspiring others to follow their passion.

Apart from viewing the collection, what else can we expect from the INTERGALACTIC$ exhibition this year?
For one thing, there is a chance of winning up to $64,000 of art in prizes. Hand-embellished unique variations of the 28 original art works on display are up for grabs, including the masterpiece of the original ‘UAE $pace Raiders’ (valued at US $20,000), featuring Alienware gaming software (valued at US $8,000) which someone will win for $1!

Augmented reality will also feature strongly to add an interactive digital element to the exhibition and form part of the competition linking each piece with a clue. A sensory Oud-based experience by Dollarsandart partners, Fragrance Du Bois, will also feature – another first for an art exhibition in the region.

This is the second time you have exhibited at Dubai Media City’s Media One Hotel. How did this partnership develop?
It was down to a chance meeting at a Facebook social media course at International House, Dubai. I was introduced to Sally Meech, Director of Marketing and Communication at Media One Hotel, and two days later we had a coffee in Café M; four weeks later we opened The Dubai Dollar Project 2013.

With every piece of Dollarsandart sold, a donation is made to Joining Jack, a charity working to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Do you feel this shows how art should go beyond unappreciated consumption?
Yes I think it definitely helps, and supporting GCC charities such as Gulf4Good enables me to give back to Dubai. This charity aspect gives Dollarsandart more of a purpose and makes it all the more rewarding when works are sold at auction.

Do you have any tips for aspiring local artists?
To enjoy the artistic process, and express yourself with your heart without worrying about what others might think. Believe in your own ability and accept that every day is a learning opportunity from which to grow. Working with traditional local media and embracing social media are powerful forms of validation in the early days, both of which I’m grateful for.

Do you have any plans to expand within the Middle East in the future?
Yes, I’m very open to holding a Dollarsandart exhibition elsewhere. I’m in the process of learning more about the various sands in the region (no two grains are alike!

Are you working on anything else at the moment?
As well as creating new art pieces for private commissions and special occasions, I’ve been working on a number of collaborations for individuals and venues in Dubai and the UK. I am even creating a unique piece in collaboration with former WBO Heavyweight Boxing Champion, David Haye, to mark the opening of the sports star’s new gym in Downtown Dubai. I’m also planning The Dubai Dollar Project 2015 – $UPERHEROE$, which I’m looking forward to.


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