Random International’s Rain Room Gets Its First Permanent Home—in the Desert

Shanghai's interactive deluge might be bigger, but the tiny UAE city of Sharjah now owns the first permanently installed Rain Room.

Random International, Rain Room, Sharjah. Courtesy the artists and Sharjah Art Foundation.

The city of Sharjah may have a bone-dry climate, but the tiny United Arab Emirates town is now proud home to an ongoing downpour: The first permanent installation of Random International’s Rain Room opened in the desert city on Monday after a VIP preview by its ruler, Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi. The Sheikh strolled through the indoor deluge and then shook hands with Random International’s co-founders, Hannes Koch and Florian Orkkrass. His Highness’s flowing robes remained as dry as when he left his air-conditioned limo.  

It has a been a busy few weeks for Random International. Last month, the collective’s first solo show in Asia opened at Yuz Museum in Shanghai, showcasing an edition of the Rain Room owned by museum founder and collector Budi Tek. Measuring just over 1,600 square feet, Shanghai’s Room is significantly bigger than Sharjah’s, as well as the edition donated to the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art last year, and the original, which the collective still owns. They all measure just over 1,000 square feet.

To house its Rain Room, the Sharjah Art Foundation has created a purpose-built home measuring nearly 16,000 square feet. Monday was a milestone for the head of the foundation, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, who also founded the Sharjah Biennial and organizes the city’s March Meetings, which lure art-world A-listers away from its richer and glitzier neighbors, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The work is the first of a number of works the foundation plans to install, artnet understands.

“Installing Rain Room in a region where people are increasingly living in somewhat automated situations at an architectural scale feels very special to us, Hannes Koch tells artnet New. He praised the architect Mona El Mousfy for the low-rise, modernist building she has designed to house the installation. Seeing the architect and Sheikha choose the site near a park was “a unique experience,” he says. “We really look forward to seeing it becoming part of Sharjah’s public landscape.”

Meanwhile, in Shanghai’s Yuz Museum, Random International is complementing Tek’s extra-large Rain Room with its first video work. Called Everything and Nothing (2016)—also the title of the exhibition—the work features a steamroller crushing everything in its path, evoking the endless transformations of the industrial world. 

Random International, Rain Room, Shanghai, courtesy of the Yuz Museum.

The Yuz Museum is also showing the newly acquired interactive work Self and Other (2016), which allows viewers to interact with their own illuminated reflections. A new work called Turnstiles (2018) is making its debut in the museum as well. Atypical for Random International, it does not include a digital component; instead, visitors interact with an installation formed by a maze of barrier gates.

“Everything and Nothing,” 20 April through to October 11, Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

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