Photo credit: Capital D

Tashkeel is pleased to present Critical Practice Programme 2015-2016 participant Vikram Divecha’s new project, Portrait Sessions, from 7 September – 13 October.

Throughout the year-long Critical Practice Programme Vikram Divecha has worked closely with Debra Levine, and as a culmination to the programme proposes a project that questions positions of value through the context of time and money.

A painting project, Portrait Sessions was initiated on 26 July 2016 and will be completed on the final day of the exhibition – 13 October 2016. Divecha has invited a spectrum of self-identified ‘non-professional painters’ to become ‘the artist’ and to paint his portrait. The duration of each portrait session is determined by how much time AED 150 can buy according to each ‘artist’s’ professional rate, with Divecha’s experience of paying workers this amount as daily wage for 9 hours of work serving as the base unit of labour value for this venture*. The underlying constant of the project is this question: How much standard professional time does AED 150 purchase from individuals working in the UAE, across professional and economic strata?

Providing participants with a 65cm x 50cm primed canvas paper, acrylic paints, brushes and all other necessary supplies from Tashkeel’s art store, Divecha will be the only model during the sessions. The collection of portraits are to be considered one work, and will be exhibited without attribution to the artists who signed a contract to work on this project with Divecha.

Drawing from his past work, Portrait Sessions represents a continued engagement with economic systems and their broader social contexts, with resultant aesthetics determined by the collaborators. The dialogue continues for the duration of the exhibition, with participants invited to paint Divecha’s portrait until the end of the exhibition on 13 October, 2016. Every portrait created during the cumulative number of sessions will be displayed at Tashkeel Nad Al Sheba from 7 September – 13 October, 2016.


The calculation for the session can be arrived at by applying the following formula:

x = (b x c)/a

a = Monthly / weekly / hourly earnings in AED

b = Standard working hours per month / week / hour

c = AED 150 (portrait session fee)

x = Duration of portrait session

* AED 150 does not represent minimum wage — the daily wage of a worker in the UAE varies.

About Vikram Divecha

Divecha works with urban processes and systems within state, social and industrial spheres. He situates his practice in these operations to examine, intervene and extract. His sculptural, installation and video works arise from his engagement with the existing material, space and labour.

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