The She Zone
Critical topographies of global space are generally built on the projection of a multi-dimensional space organized around class, race and nationality. While there is an overall agreement that the current formation of globalization ruled by the credo of neo-liberalism is seriously undermining the nation state and its decision-making ability as much as it is polarizing the social and economic landscapes around the globe, the mappings rarely address questions of gender, sexuality and the body. Within the hegemonic order of globalization, what gender relations are privileged; which conditions and features encouraged, which discouraged by the complex forces promoting expansion and exclusion, mobility and imprisonment?
Searching for gender topographies of global spaces, 'The She Zone' relays on the popular format of a narrated slide show to reflect on gendered spaces, globalization and othering. Referring to a format that is generally used by travelers who return from a trip and exhibit the visual trophies of their excursion, the videotaped slide show reconstructs processes of Western projection and fantasy. It documents a venture into a women's only shopping space – the so-called She Zone in Abu Dhabi –, only to discover that it had closed a few days earlier due to a lack of interest. Global consumer forces, the documentation suggests, are stronger than the need for women's segregation. In cities like Dubai, where 66 percent of the population are men since the extensive work force is mainly composed of male expatriots from India and Pakistan, shopping malls are core features of a city that ostentatiously exhibits its central role in the new symbolic economy, promoting immaterial values of generic brands and historicized postmodern architectures. In the consumer spaces of Dubai, the documentation proposes, she zones are fully integrated into the postmodern variation of public space; women's spaces are far from incompatible with globalization – as long as they can be transformed into consuming dreams of instant gratification, individuality and mobility. In this respect, Dubai is a laboratory for future city developments, an ideal type urbanity that illustrates the smooth coexistence of expansion and exclusion in global space.
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