Machine Désirante [Desiring Machine], 2017
8 hand-tufted wool carpets
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation
Machine Désirante [Desiring Machine] is an investigation of the formation of visual identity in Sharjah from the early 1960s and therefore also of the idea of the future in Sharjah around the time of its independence. The infrastructural accoutrements of a nation-state include its postal system. In the case of Sharjah and of some of the other emirates, an American entrepreneur became responsible for the postal franchise and thus for choosing the images printed on the postage stamps. The selection of the images for Alves’ work includes, a skier from the Winter Olympics at Grenoble in 1968, President de Gaulle and a fighter jet, satellites, a cowboy, the World Fair in New York in 1964, and President Kennedy which surround an aerial view of Sharjah from the 1970s. The images of these stamps are printed on an ordinary household object – a carpet which instead of bringing us the reminiscence of flowers and gardens to desert sands constructs new desires which influences our futures. These stamps issued in the 1960s-70s, reflect the aspirations for modernity and a Western idea of progress, much similar to the situation of the artist's own country, Brazil during the same period of time. These aspirations continue to direct our desires in the construction of a future while we watch skiers race down an artificially snow covered slope in a high-end shopping mall in Dubai.