Island of Happiness

Abu Dhabi, Paris

Video, 6:16 min., photographs, books,
puzzles, museum guide, salt crystals,
Stamps, work clothes, video games,
architectural model



As one of the world’s largest museums in the world the Louvre in Paris is regarded as a stronghold of art history and as an architectural landmark of „Old Europe“. Invited by the United Arab Emirates, currently, the Louvre Abu Dhabi comes into being on the Arabian Peninsula.

Against this backdrop, Berlin-based artist Raul Walch, known for his critical yet playful examinations of the built environment, travelled to both venues: the venerable Louvre Paris and the nascent construction site of its new branch on an island in the Persian Gulf. There he collected diverse impressions, – pictures, videos and artefacts – for his installation „Island of Happiness“. In titular reference to the building site for the new Louvre – Saadiyat Island (Arabic for „Happiness Island“) off the coast of Abu Dhabi – the work brings together the two sites in a collage-like installation, revealing apparent analogies but also stark contrasts between them. Walch thereby explores and addresses not only the visual representation of the museum but also the social implication of the Louvre’s role as a global player.

His „Island of Happiness“ becomes an equally humorous as well as uncanny allegory for the transgressing of cultural boundaries and the societies we live in. Walch appears in various pictures for example, mimicking a migrant construction worker from the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the picture gallery of the Louvre Paris, and vice versa performing almost theatrical gestures inspired by famous paintings and sculptures on show in the Parisian Louvre on the construction site of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. To Walch, his „Island of Happiness“ is the place to carry out socio-political questions about the cross-border transference of modes of cultural production that constitute the increasingly networked contemporary world.
Lukas Feireiss