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Walk into this rain room in Sharjah, but getting wet is optional

Filed on May 3, 2018 | Last updated on May 3, 2018 at 07.35 am
A visitor takes photos inside the Rain Room, a site-specific installation. - KT photo by M Sajjad

In the Rain Room installation by Sharjah Art Foundation, you can walk through the shower without getting wet.

One way to look at it is that there's a giant new shower in town. But, not getting wet is its USP.

Since April 29, people curious to check out this novel sprinkler system, have queued up near Sharjah's Al Majarrah Park. Families are arriving in hordes. Kids love it. It's a different novelty from what the emirate is used to.

'Rain Room', a 2012 art installation by the group Random International, has finally hit the UAE, a feather in the cap of the Sharjah Art Foundation. It is a permanent installation, said to be the first in a series planned by the foundation.

It's also lots of fun. You hear the patter of rain as you approach the Rain Room. The build-up is remarkable. You walk down a high-ceilinged, narrow concrete corridor. Then you enter a large, dark room with one blinding light. It needs to be on to make sure the 'downpour' can be filmed, photographed, is selfie-friendly. Then you see people looking up at the large 'shower head', examining, experiencing the shards of water hitting the metal surface around them. And there's the moment: the water does not touch them. It won't touch you either. You can play with the motion sensors, move fast, move slow, try and understand the engineering of what will get you wet. It's as much a technological feat as an artistic one. If you don't want to get wet, walk really slowly. If you don't care that a few drops hit your face - in fact you want it - just walk faster.

Chatting with Khaleej Times, Nawar Ahmed Al Qasimi, director of development at the Sharjah Art Foundation, said: "I didn't even go under the water at that point (on the inauguration day). I was just looking at entrances, exits, where are we going to walk, all the protocol stuff. That's all I looked at. But then, after everybody left and it was quieter... I went again, I had that a-ha moment. It's very. I don't know how to explain it, but my heart skipped a beat. Your chest gets tight and you hold your breath and you look, and you just listen to the sound of the water".

The project is the brainchild of artists Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, who were in town for the official opening on April 29, but flew out at midnight on the same day. You can hear them talk about the project on YouTube.

"Most people want to know if the water is an illusion", says Ali Mrad, from the social media team of the Sharjah Art Foundation. "That's the most common question. The other is, where is it?"

niviriti@khaleejtimes.com

> Where: Off Al Majarrah Park, Sharjah. If you type Rain Room on Google Maps, you'll see it.

ENTRY FEE:

> Dh25 for adults

> Dh15 for students

> Free for kids under 5

author

Nivriti Butalia

Nivriti is assistant editor with Khaleej Times. She brings out the features pages on Fridays and Saturdays (see 'Blogs' at https://blogs.khaleejtimes.com, and writes a weekly slice-of-life column called Meanderings. Her Twitter handle is @butniv.


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