Sharjah: Visitors to the newly opened Rain Room in Sharjah can now enjoy a rain-like downpour — without getting wet.
The surreal experience is made possible by motion sensors that hold back the nonstop ‘rain’ where visitors stand or walk. You can even hold out your arms or take a selfie without getting wet, if you do it a bit slower than usual.
The arrangement means you are continuously, and closely, surrounded by falling water wherever you are and wherever you move inside the installation, located besides Al Majarrah Park, off Al Sharq Street.
Rain Room is an installation created by Random International, a studio specialising in “experimental practice within contemporary art”. After being showcased in leading museums in Los Angeles, Shanghai, New York, and London, a permanent edition of Rain Room has now been opened by Sharjah Art Foundation, marking its Middle East debut.
On Wednesday, reporters were invited to visit the Rain Room, which is a dark underground chamber, lit only by a spotlight that makes the water dazzle like strings of light, slicing through black space around them.
It evokes a sense of an otherworld, where night never ends and perpetual rain is the only inhabitant, the only thing one can see and hear. In a way, the rain is endless because the water in Rain Room never stops — all its 1,200 litres are recycled continuously and cleaned.
The falling water goes straight through the floor, which has small spaces in it; gets taken back up, and rains down again.
The unique new attraction was inaugurated on Sunday by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in the presence of Shaikha Hoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, president of Sharjah Art Foundation.
In a statement, Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, founders of Random International, said: “That Rain Room has found a permanent home at Sharjah Art Foundation is a humbling thought. The organisation [Sharjah Art Foundation] is unparalleled in its approach to art, exhibition-making and relationships with a wider public audience.”
Regarding the wider significance of Sunday’s inauguration, Shaikha Hoor said: “Over the years, we have exhibited a number of large-scale immersive installations through the Sharjah Biennials and our regular exhibitions programme, but this is the first of a series of projects that are planned as permanent works in locations across the emirate.”
Those locations “often are, let’s say, places not utilised for new things; they’re usually older areas,” Shaikha Nawar Bint Ahmad Al Qasimi, director of development at Sharjah Art Foundation, told Gulf News on the sidelines of Wednesday’s tour of Rain Room.
“And part of the reason for that is placing importance on locations in the emirate that were really important historically, and also for people from different cultures and societies,” Shaikha Nawar added.
For instance, the area home to Rain Room was up until the mid-1900s a key residential area that linked Sharjah city’s then biggest neighbourhoods, and had its own souq and fish market.
“The idea is also to go back to these areas that are sometimes overlooked. There’s a future project that’s going to take place in the park here in Al Majarrah. So we’re trying to really also look at what we can also do for the communities in different locations.”
Student: Dh15 (up to 22 years — ID required)
Teachers: Dh15 (ID required)
Children: Free admission (up to 5 years)
People with disabilities and one caregiver: Free admission
Saturday – Thursday: 9am to 9pm
Friday: 4pm to 11pm
Saturday – Thursday: From 10am to 3pm; 9pm to midnight
Friday: 9pm to midnight
■ Visitors are discouraged from wearing skinny high heels.
■ Dark, shiny, reflective or impermeable clothing may affect the function of the sensors.
■ If visitors move impulsively within the installation, slight contact with water is possible.