A hybrid of cinema, video art and documentary-making, the CITYTELLERS series - a video trilogy devoted to Dubai, São Paulo and Aral - takes the form of an enquiry into certain places of the world that have become symbols of power, with their extreme paradoxes and devastating consequences for human beings and nature. DUBAI_CITYTELLERS focuses on the recent and profound transformations Dubai has undergone. This former British protectorate - now one of the seven states forming the United Arab Emirates - is the only state in the Arab peninsula that has founded its economic fortune not on petrol, but on finance and real estate.
The video unfolds through scenes filmed on site and interviews with Western and Eastern immigrants, as well as local politicians and journalists. Developed according to a sensory discomfort strategy, the work lies halfway between enquiry and fiction, offering no absolute certainties. The narrative logic of the video is often challenged by a fragmentary system of contributions, images and speeches, which provide different and often openly contrasting points of view. Jodice focuses in particular upon an analysis of the living conditions of immigrants (particularly those from India, Pakistan and Nepal), who are employed as cheap labour in the building sector.
The formidable economic growth of the country is based precisely on the exploitation of the work of these men, who have enabled the construction of vast real estate assets at a low cost and in a very short time. Dubai emerges as a place ridden with deep social and cultural contradictions. It is the city housing the tallest skyscraper in the world, as well as some of the most original experimental works of engineering and architecture.
The taste for luxury of Western high society is here put on full display in an attempt to emulate it and even surpass the pomp of its events - ranging from fashion shows to horse races. At the same time, Dubai is also a Muslim state, with laws that are still very harsh when it comes to the morals and lifestyles of its citizens. This sense of contradiction that Westerners perceive is emphasized by Jodice through the use of effective oxymora such as the juxtaposition between images of the desert landscape of Dubai and those of a ski slope covered in snow or of an extraordinary aquarium - artificial places created to entertain wealthy Western guests.
The opulent welcome people receive in Dubai is geared towards constructing an image of the place that may attract economic investments. While the recent financial crisis has partly hampered this process, Dubai still stands as the perfect example of a state that has proven capable of representing itself as a land of wonders where everything is possible, by concealing the problematic social and cultural dynamics on which it is founded.