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The Dara Chronicles
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 03 - 2013

DUBAI — The Ara Gallery presents the solo exhibition of Maisoon Al Saleh. The exhibition's vernissage took place on March 12 from 7:00 – 9:00pm, and the exhibition will run from March 13 - May 31.
The exhibition, entitled The Dara Chronicles features a number of artworks by the emerging Emirati artist, inspired by the important historical event of the Dara shipwreck. The exhibition is curated by Janet Bellotto.
Emerging Emarati artist
Born in 1988, the up-and-coming Emirati artist and entrepreneur Maisoon Al Saleh is active in her practice both in Dubai and internationally. She graduated from Zayed University in 2010, with a degree in Interior Design. Al Saleh's first solo show was at the Maraya Art Center, Sharjah, in Autumn 2010.
Al Saleh's work has been exhibited in UAE at various exhibitions, including Art Dubai; Emirati Expression at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi; Macedonian Museum, Greece; Palazzo TE Museum, Italy; Centro Cultural CajaGRANADA Memoria de, Spain; and her work has also been included in many shows in the United States. Her work is also included in the Barjeel Art Foundation collection in Sharjah.
Curator of exhibitions
Janet Bellotto is an artist from Toronto, who is an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Creative Design at Zayed University, Dubai. She is also the Artistic Director of ISEA2014 — an international symposium of art, science and technology that will be hosted in Dubai in November 2014. Bellotto's practice encompasses curating and writing, and engages in projects that promote cultural exchange. Curatorial exhibitions include: Tessellation Make-Up, Gallery Zilberman, Istanbul; Resurrection des Mannequins, Contemporary Crosscurrents, with Streaming Museum, Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai; Portfolio Gallery, Dubai, No Such Place II, Roger Smith Hotel, New York; and Nature in the Gararge, Toronto.
The Dara Chronicles
Al Saleh presents a solo exhibition of artworks — from digital paintings to mixed-media prints — that explore retold stories and documented accounts about the M.V. Dara passenger liner explosion on April 8th, 1961.
Al Saleh grew up hearing stories that her grandfather would tell about that night on the vessel. Newspaper articles and other reports at the time only account of an explosion in middle of the ship and that the cause was possible sabotage. Beginning with an exploratory dive at the Dara grave site, Al Saleh begins to discover and research the event experienced and retold from different personal perspectives. The works are inspired letters about the incident written by the boat company and police investigators, as well as news articles, and stories told by survivors or family members of those who perished in the shipwreck.
The artist further juxtaposes the different viewpoints expressed regarding the Dara explosion, beginning with three suitcases as a counterpoint of the different nationalities on board — in particular British, Indian and GCC passengers.
Portraits of passengers, stories of the explosion and the events that followed illuminate personal narratives versus that which is documented in the media. Through this exhibition Al Saleh attempts to bring viewers into a discussion about the importance of this historical event of Emirati history on the sea.


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