27 Feb 2024 - 19 Apr 2024

Toy World

The Third Line


A horse bucks when it senses danger and fears it cannot escape (Horse Bucking Teeth, n.d.). When danger is real, fear abounds. The powers that be recognize it as ammunition for a system of control. State becomes God. You enter the always-panopticon, subject to forever surveillance that does not guarantee safety any more than a fake security camera from the local dollar store (Security Camera, 2017).

This is Farah Al Qasimi’s first exhibition featuring black and white images. “Black and white images automatically historicize,” she says. The glossy veneer of history allows us to indulge in theory immune from personal responsibility. Too often, we forget that the now we live is but prototype for future history.

The carrier pigeon, once used by the military to deliver messages, is now obsolete. And yet a trace of the true self exists in the new self: her descendent, the city pigeon, is itself a message — that of the enshittification of the messages in the images that surround us (Pigeons on Pink Building, 2024).

We decode messages in the images we obtain through multiple degrees of separation necessarily mediated by a trust in the network. We do not have access to the reality that dances forth the images: we must content ourselves with only the images. Eventually, the choreography halts (Baton Girls, 2023). The image-flood makes it easy to feel nothing when confronted with reality in the second degree. The luridity of pain is no longer inherited. Yet the ghosts of the images penetrate our consciousness, reverberating ad infinitum: chicken bones in basmati rice take on the aura of death by drone (Machboos, 2024). I know that the camel bones lying in the barren grass are innocuous victims of the cycle of life, but all I can think of are anonymous human remains, lying forgotten in decimated battlefields that will never bear another rose (Camel Bones, n.d.).

Yet all we have are our sigils, these images. Without them, we lie alone, prostrate in the desert under a starless sky (Sand Dune, 2023).

Text by Sarah Chekfa

Press release from The Third Line, Dubai

Image: Farah Al Qasimi. Security Camera, Yara, Pigeons on Pink Building. 2024. Photography by Musthafa Aboobacker. Image courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai