GCC’s sculptural installation for the 2017 Biennial dramatizes a bit of tabloid news: in October 2016, police were called to a beach in the United Arab Emirates when a melon—covered in talismanic inscriptions and punctured by nails—washed ashore. The object was considered a vessel of so-called black magic, which is illegal in the UAE. “While the governments of the Gulf countries have selectively chosen to revitalize certain aspects of the region’s cultural heritage, sorcery is relegated to the fringe,” GCC noted.
Such contradictions of modern life in the region animate the work of the eight-member collective, whose name co-opts the abbreviation for the Gulf Cooperation Council, the political and economic union of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. By monumentalizing the magical melon in the center of a traffic roundabout—which the group sees as a “ubiquitous remnant of European colonialism and postcolonial influence”—GCC questions the primacy that certain traditions are accorded over others.