MAD Gallery header
MAD Gallery header

A Star Wars music box & robot lamps: Dubai’s coolest new art spot

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This is an exhibition you need to see: the new MB&F MAD Gallery on Alserkal Avenue and its funky kinetic art pieces are playing around with everything we thought we knew about art.

The gallery’s name, ‘MAD’, actually stands for Mechanical Art Devices, but there’s definitely a touch of insanity about one or two of the devices on show.

The space shows off weird and wonderful mechanical creations by artists from across the world, as well as a select few quirky high-end watches (or ‘horological machines’) from the luxury Swiss watch manufacturer MB&F.

“I find that I’m rarely in awe of anything nowadays,” said Maximilian Büsser, MB&F owner and gallery curator. “Everything in here is something that has made me go ‘oh wow’”.

Here are the five pieces that made us go ‘oh wow’ too…

Hover-board art

Anyone remember Back To The Future 2? This is the original hover board,” explains Maximilian Büsser. While he’s exaggerating a bit (for one, we definitely weren’t allowed to stand on it), this gravity-defying art piece is still very cool.

Using incredibly strong magnets, young French artist, Quentin Carnaille has been able to keep six-kilo blocks floating gracefully in the air. His piece Apesanteur III also happens to have about 50,000 tiny steel watch components clinging on through magnetic pull alone.

Hand this in to your science teacher and you’re bound to get an A.

Hand crafted motorbikes

Chicara Nagata Motobike

The gallery’s first ‘headline act’ is a beautiful series of one-of-a-kind motorbikes by Japanese artist/mechanic Chicara Nagata.

For the last 20 years he’s collected vintage engines and then handcrafted the bikes around them, painstakingly creating each of the 500-or-so components himself.

These are true labours of love, each one taking about 7,000 hours to finish, which will explain why one of them, the Chicara Art Three, will set you back Dhs1,732,000.

These bikes are strictly art though, so best avoid driving them down Sheikh Zayed Road.

Star Wars music box

This is the manliest music box you’ll ever find and, no, it’s no coincidence that it looks uncannily like a Star Wars tie fighter.

For this, the MusicMachine 3, MB&F worked with a violin maker as well as Swiss music box experts Reuge to create this chromed-out wind-up music box. It is inspired by gallery founder Büsser’s love of epic film music.

Each cylinder has thousands of steel picks that were individually inserted, and once the cranks are turned, the theme songs from Star Wars, Mission Impossible and James Bond sonically appear.

Robot lamps

Frank Buchwald robot lamp

Is it just us or do these lamps look like something straight out of War of the Worlds?

Berlin-based artist Frank Buchwald worked for years as a science-fiction illustrator in the pre-digital age. Once computers were introduced, he chose to turn his art and passion to handcrafting these lamps, of which he only makes three or four a year.

His sci-fi past would explain why many of his lamps look a little like they might up and crawl straight out of the room.

Idle hands

It’s hard to look at Fingers Mk III and not be reminded of Thing from The Addams Family. Luckily this hand runs strictly on motors which, when switched on, make the unnervingly realistic fingers drum impatiently on the surface.

Created by Nik Ramage from the British-Dutch collaboration Laikingland. The hand is apparently a replica of Ramage’s own, perhaps tapping fingers is an annoying habit of his.

– UnitH81, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz. Exhibitions ongoing. Gallery open Saturday to Thursday 10am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 3307366. More info on website.

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