Arabian Transfer


Michele Nastasi’s Arabian Transfer is conceived as a journey through six cities of the Arabian Peninsula. It comes after a decade of traveling and research in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait City, Manama, Riyadh, cities that despite being represented continually by the media and advertising, and despite having a foothold on tourist interest, remain essentially invisible as real urban spaces. Arabian Transfer locates the ways in which these places, acting as major hubs of global transit, embody the contemporary world’s state of transience, of people, cultures, images, capital, and goods. It is this condition of permanent “transfer”, which is exacted both on the Gulf’s many populations, and on a global scale, that produces these cities in their current form. Nastasi’s documentation of the Gulf’s systemic, rapid, and near infinite transposition draws on photographs alongside personal anecdotes and annotations, finding an aesthetic vocabulary to alleviate the ambivalence and opacity around urban migration and visibility in the Gulf, and its subsisting by-products.

The exhibition is supported by the Italian Cultural Institute of Abu Dhabi. 

About the Artist

What Michele Nastasi sees through his lens is a wide field where the urban takes place. He has a vision of the global city as meaningful and humane, his pictures conveying a distinctive sense of presence. His work, as a photographer and scholar, is focused on the imagery of contemporary cities and architecture, and he has carried out long-term research in the Emirates and across the Gulf countries. His photographs have been exhibited internationally in venues such as the MIT Museum in Cambridge, the New York University in New York and Abu Dhabi, the Institute for Italian Culture in Paris, the MAXXI in Rome, the Venice Biennale. He is author of books, among which the recent “Arabian Transfer” (Hatje Cantz 2021), on the cities of the Arabian Peninsula, and for more than a decade he has been editor of the architectural review Lotus International. He holds a PhD in History of the Arts from the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, and he has taught Architectural Photography at the Politecnico di Milano and other schools. He has curated exhibitions, among which the recent “Luigi Ghirri: The Landscape of Architecture” at the Milan Triennale. He lives in Milan.