MB&F M.A.D.Gallery: An Artful Meeting Place In Dubai
by Simon Cudd
This is a quote from MB&F’s website, and I find it describes this location very aptly: “The MB&F M.A.D.Gallery is a captivating universe of kinetic art where Horological Machines and Mechanical Art Devices reign supreme.”
I recently visited Dubai on a private commission, a destination I had been itching to visit for years: those skylines, that mix of culture and art, the glorious weather! I wasn’t disappointed on any front. What a place!
(On a side note, last year both Elizabeth and Ian found Dubai to be a truly enthralling place as well, which you can see more about in Dubai Watch Week: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.)
AlSerkel Avenue, Street 8 Al Quoz 1 is just a short taxi drive from downtown Dubai and the financial district, where you will find unassuming, industrial-looking warehouses, which have since been transformed into trendy boxes housing the best contemporary art found in Dubai. Established in 2007, this industrial quarter showcases both local and global artists in a “hub.” The 20 warehouses have now expanded to create 50,000 square meters of gallery space.
This quote from the AlSerkel Avenue website is equally apt. “The vision for Alserkal Avenue has always been to build a home for creative industries. It maps a vital intersection for the confluences of art, culture and development. To this end, we are more than just a neighborhood; we are an arts organization with an active homegrown program; we are the driving force that brings the community together to support and encourage a creative economy; we are a platform via which regional artists and art initiatives can reach a wider, international audience.”
Escaping the immense July heat, I entered the welcomingly cool air-conditioned space of the M.A.D.Gallery, immediately discovering that the only similarity to the Geneva gallery is what is on show. The space’s vast height lends itself very well to its subject matter without anything feeling lost.
Some of my favorite artists’ work was featured, including Quentin Carnaille’s Apesanteur, Frank Buchwald’s Machines, and Nik Ramage’s Fingers.
An architect turned artist, Quentin’s Carnaille’s cool Apesanteur (“Zero Gravity”) sculpture is made of thousands of tiny mechanical watch parts flying, floating, and defying gravity thanks to magnets.
I fell in love with Nixie tubes when I visited the M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva last year (see Science Fiction Incarnate: Frank Buchwald’s Nixie Machine For MB&F). Buchwald’s use of burnished steel and brushed brass combined with these East German 1960s light tubes is totally captivating.
At the flick of a switch, Nik Ramage’s sculpted fingers tap menacingly yet amusingly at the same time.
Thanks to the fantastic mix of art at the gallery, I got to see other works that until now I had only admired on the website and on social media, including Xia Hang’s massive shark sculpture “To Poseidon” made of thousands of steel pieces. The shark is portrayed as a warship, a soldier of Poseidon, the mythical Greek god of the sea. This is a very impressive sculpture limited to just 12 pieces.
A new fan of Qlocktwo, I was drawn in by the display in evidence as I entered the gallery to the right. On the wall, displayed in perfect symmetry, was an array of these clocks, but Lebanese artist Lauris Zailaa’s version with its amazing colors and Arabic references completely drew me in. Zailaa won the International Emerging Artist award presented earlier this year at the gallery.
Apart from these showcased artists from around the world, the M.A.D.Gallery also exhibits MB&F timepieces and clocks. Despite being slightly apprehensive of spiders (but not scared, you understand), I find the L’Epee Arachnophobia clock amusing and intriguing. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, so it was great to see the gold-plated version “hanging around” on the gallery wall! (See Halloween Heartbeat: MB&F Arachnophobia.)
During my visit, a courier turned up with a package – and what should be inside but Legacy Machine Silberstein in steel (see Shy No More: MB&F LM1 Silberstein)! This watch was my Baselworld 2016 highlight, although the PVD-coated version would be the one I would walk away with. It was great to see this “re-mixed” version again in a very different light. The flashes of red, blue, and yellow are hypnotic across those brushed dials undistracted by the sapphire crystal bridge.
Having horological favorites is a bold accusation, like being asked which of your children is your favorite. Until last week, I could argue that the Silberstein LM1 had stolen my top spot from the HM3 Chocolate Frog (see HM3 Megawind Final Edition By MB&F: Let There Be Light!), which I’ve loved for years. Perhaps, however, the LM1 M.A.D. Dubai edition has pipped the French genius of Silberstein’s design.
All I can possibly say to describe that dial is wow! Just wow. The green is amazing; it changes color wherever you are, inside or out, like a sophisticated chameleon: one minute green, then blue, then purple! Paying tribute to pocket watches of old, the Legacy Machines are a testament to reinterpreting time as seen from the yesteryear of MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser’s imagination.
It also represents the perfect mix of Büsser, Mojon, and Kari Voutilainen’s genius way of working together.
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com/mad-gallery.
Quick Facts Legacy Machine LM 1 M.A.D Dubai
Case: titanium, 44 x 16 mm
Movement: manual winding Caliber LM1, created by Jean-François Mojon and Kari Voutilainen
Functions: hours, minutes; independent dual time zones, vertical power reserve indicator
Limitation: 13 pieces
Price: 79,000 Swiss francs