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Dubai Citytellers

Two million workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh work 12 hours a day at 140°F to build the most impressive cathedral on earth in the desert. They have been reduced to modern day indentured labour by the same system which promotes Dubai as an 'Opulence ad-personam experience'.



Francesco Jodice 

Dubai Citytellers, 2010

Video, 12'54"

Courtesy of the Artist


Written by: Francesco Jodice & Saverio Pesapane
Line Producer: Daniele Gentili
Cinematographer: Enrico Cremagnani
Original Sound Score: Alessandro Sambini

Editor: Angelo Boriolo (Boris)
Produced by Francesco Jodice Supported by Unicredit & Art


A city that has grown up in the desert and has become both a beacon for some and a cautionary tale about hubris for others. Home to architectural superlatives, Dubai certainly attracts both 'big' business and people in equal measure but its success is reliant on more than just luxury and tall buildings - someone has to service that luxury and someone has to build those buildings.


Co-written with Saverio Pesapane, Francesco Jodice's film Dubai Citytellers explores what it takes - in material and human terms - to support Dubai and its inhabitants. Examining, in an even-handed and investigative manner, the lives of the people who live there and the workers and ex-pats who populate this city, Jodice leaves it to the viewer to come to their own opinion about the city that is Dubai.

Jodice and Pesapane present here the second chapter of Dubai Citytellers: 'Desert Mirage'.


About the artist

Francesco Jodice

Francesco Jodice lives in Milan. His research investigates mutations in social landscapes comparing similar phenomena in distant parts of the world using photography, filmmaking, maps and writing. In 2000, he co-founded 'Multiplicity', an international network of artists and architects. In 2004, he was named Professor of Theory and Practice of Technological Image at the Faculty of Design and Art, University of Bolzano and in 2005 Professor of Visual Urban Anthropology at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti) in Milan. In 2008 the UN commissioned him a short film to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Francesco Jodice has shown his work at Documenta, the Venice Biennale, Bienal de São Paulo, Liverpool Biennial, ICP Triennial of Photography and Video New York and exhibited works at Tate Modern London, Reina Sofia Madrid, Castello di Rivoli Turin, Maison Européenne de la Photographie Paris, and Bard College New York, MAMbo Bologna, Madre di Napoli.

About the artist

Saverio Pesapane

Saverio Pesapane graduated in architecture with a specialisation in Urban Studies. His current research looks at mutations in the contemporary human environment. In 2006, Pesapane directed Lost Highway, a documentary about the highways between Napoli and Caserta, in southern Italy, and the territories around them. In 2008, he wrote and co-directed A Water Tale, a short movie included in Stories on Human Rights, a collective project commissioned by the UN for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His films include Aral Citytellers (2010), shot on the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Dubai Citytellers (2009). He wrote and shot a series of short movies about HIV diffusion in Kenya. Saverio Pesapane teaches Photography and Urban Studies at NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, in Milan.