We are pleased to be part of Plaza Cinema, Ammar Al Attar’s commission that reflects on the cultural impact of the recently demolished Plaza Cinema (aka. Golden Cinema) a 1,500-seat theatre opened in 1972, which was located opposite Al Ghubaiba metro station in Bur Dubai.
Al Attar’s commission is accompanied by a short film programme that celebrates Plaza Cinema’s cultural impact as one of Dubai’s first and most popular movie-houses. Play it Again Sam (1972), directed by Herbert Ross and starring Woody Allen, was one of the earliest films screened at Plaza Cinema. It returns to Dubai on 18 March and will be screened in the Alserkal Avenue Yard. This is followed on 29 March by Zayy Ood Al Kabreet (Like a Matchstick) (2016), Hussein El Imam’s last film that plays homage to Egypt’s golden age of cinema.
Ammar Al Attar’s Plaza Cinema (2017) stems from the artist’s ongoing efforts to rescue and preserve the contents of decommissioned movie-houses in the UAE. For the last two years, the artist has focused his attention on Plaza Cinema, one of the first and most popular movie-houses in Dubai, which opened in 1972 and was razed just last year. Acting as a passionate and concerned citizen rather than an official historian, Al Attar has systematically collected artifacts from the cinema, and here, presents for the first time, a selection of what he’s found, including re-printed movie-posters, hand-painted glass slides and back-office ephemera. Although it mainly screened South-Asian and Arabic films, Plaza Cinema was an important landmark for a variety of different communities in Dubai, an informal center of expatriate life. Al Attar’s exhibition amidst a lack of official memorialization, reflects the accelerating speed and short-term memory of development in Dubai. It also represents the desires of an emerging generation of artists to preserve and articulate a more expansive and nuanced cultural narrative of the city. Al Attar’s Plaza Cinema is a 2017 Alserkal Programming Commission.
Born in 1981, Ammar Al Attar lives in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates. Self-taught, Al Attar’s practice as a photographer and mixed-media artist, seeks to not only document and translate but also methodically research and examine aspects of Emirati ritual, material culture, and geographic orientation.
Alserkal Avenue is the region’s foremost arts and culture neighbourhood located in Al Quoz, Dubai. Since it was established in 2007, Alserkal Avenue has grown to become an essential platform for the development of homegrown artistic and cultural initiatives, supporting a vibrant community of contemporary art galleries and alternative art spaces, together with design, media and industrial studios. In 2015 Alserkal Avenue began introducing its own homegrown programme as an arts organization, dedicated to encouraging new ideas, open dialogue and a more diverse and rich ecosystem for art in the region.