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Art Jameel partners with the National Pavilion UAE – la Biennale di Venezia

05 May 2017
Lantian Xie, Half-Cup Saffron, 2016. Saffron, Rainbow condensed milk, Lipton tea, styrofoam cup, hot plate. Courtesy the Artist, Art Jameel and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Where does ‘playfulness’ in artistic practice come from? How and where is ‘play’ nurtured? What does ‘play’ do?

Art Jameel is delighted to announce its support for the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates’ 2017 exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale). Commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, the exhibition will run from May 13 to November 26, 2017, with a preview from May 10-12, 2017.

Art Jameel collaborated with the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates to support an intensive six-month research period in the lead-up to the exhibition, which resulted in a rich, extensive body of historical material on the foundations of the contemporary art movement in the UAE, plus new interviews and perspectives.

Art Jameel’s director Antonia Carver says, “Working with the National Pavilion UAE and curator Hammad Nasar to develop the research for this project has been a rewarding experience and we are excited to see the final results in person at the opening in Venice. Art Jameel is committed to developing research programmes, plus international collaborations and partnering with arts organisations across the UAE, so this project fits so well within our wider remit.”

The research has not only informed the publication accompanying ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play’, but it will also contribute to the Jameel Arts Centre Research Library’s focus on arts histories of the UAE and GCC. The Research Library is set to open in winter 2018, as part of the forthcoming Jameel Arts Centre Dubai, currently under construction in Jadaf, on the Dubai Creek.

The exhibition, titled ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play’, is curated by Hammad Nasar, and will explore the concept of “playfulness” as a connecting thread across multiple generations of artistic practice in the UAE. As the UAE National Pavilion has detailed, the exhibition attempts to address a set of nested enquiries: Where does ‘playfulness’ in artistic practice come from? How and where is ‘play’ nurtured? What does ‘play’ do?

The exhibition will present a mix of new commissions, existing works and re-fabrications of ‘lost’ pieces by five artists who call the UAE home: Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie and Dr. Mohamed Yousif. Their exhibited works approach play through movement, rhythm, form, time and place.

Researcher Uns Kattan worked alongside curator Hammad Nasar, and the artists and their wider community, in the development of the research accompanying the exhibition. The accompanying publication and programme serve as additional sites of exhibition and play.

Dubai-based artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian have been commissioned to contribute a 30-page series of paintings and collages conceived as a creative playground for the publication, which will go beyond the exhibition’s contents to explore the curatorial concept from additional creative perspectives, both visual and textual. Deepak Unnikrishnan has written a series of contemporary fables for the publication, while WTD Magazine contributes a project mapping informal spaces of play in the UAE; both contributions will also have a physical presence within the exhibition space. These creative responses to the exhibition’s themes will sit alongside a series of essays. Art historian Murtaza Vali explores the artistic genealogy of play in the UAE with a focus on the works of Hassan Sharif and Abdullah Al Saadi. Uzma Rizvi will write about fluidity and spaces of belonging, as journalist Osman Samiuddin contributes a piece on cricket, its history and stories within the UAE. Ethnomusicologist Aisha Bilkhair analyses Afro-Emirati music and folkloric games, and Reem Fadda and Maisa Al Qassimi write about the research on Abu Dhabi’s social clubs they incorporated in their curation of Emirati Expressions 2015.

Art Jameel is also one of several cultural institutions across the UAE that has been invited to join the conversation around the themes of the exhibition with activations in their own programming. As UAE National Pavilion recently announced, some of the confirmed institutions include Sharjah Art Foundation, The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, Alserkal Programming, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre, Warehouse421 and London-based art school Central Saint Martins.

During Dubai Art Week 2017, Art Jameel announced one of the first non-profit contemporary arts institutions in Dubai, the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai. The Centre will present curated exhibitions that draw from the Jameel Art Collection, as well as regional and international solo and group shows. The Jameel Arts Centre—a 10,000 square metre, three-storey multi-disciplinary space designed by UK-based firm Serie Architects—is designed as a hub for educational and research initiatives, while its wider programming embraces collaboration and partnerships with local, regional and international artists, curators and organisations.