Emirati Arabi Uniti
Arsenale, Sala d’Armi, Campo della Tana 2169/F, Castello
30122 Venezia VE
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La Biennale di Venezia | Emirati Arabi Uniti : Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie and Dr. Mohamed Yousif Rock / Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play
Vikram Divecha, Degenerative Disarrangement, 2013. Interlocking pavement bricks, dimensions variable. Relocated from Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, Dubai, 2017. Uprooted from Al Ghubaiba bus stand, Dubai, 2013. SIKKA 2013, commissioned by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. Image courtesy of the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai.

United Arab Emirates Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie and Dr. Mohamed Yousif
Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play

May 13–November 26, 2017


Inauguration: May 10, 3pm

United Arab Emirates Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Arsenale – Sale d’Armi
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The National Pavilion UAE has announced the artworks for the 2017 exhibition at the Venice Biennale, as well as commissions included in the accompanying publication and wider projects taking place with cultural institutions in the UAE and internationally.

Curated by Hammad Nasar, commissioned by Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, the exhibition Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play, will explore the concept of “playfulness” as a connecting thread across multiple generations of artistic practice in the UAE, addressing the questions: Where does “playfulness” in artistic practice come from? How and where is “play” nurtured? What does “play” do?

The exhibition will present 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.

“Play and playfulness are vehicles through which we as children learn to understand the world around us and navigate our place in it. This exhibition foregrounds a selection of artists whose practice takes this process of understanding and navigation as a source of inspiration and vitality,” says Hammad Nasar.

Nujoom Alghanem will present Between Heaven and Earth, the Body I Borrowed, a sound installation based on a poetry performance, Space, a visual poem, and a reproduction of Silsilat Al Ramad, Volume 1, a self-published journal produced by the artist and members of the Aqwas collective in 1985.

Sara Al Haddad will contribute three crocheted yarn installations, including one existing work as you try to forget me and two new commissions: don’t you ever leave me alone, a screen stretched between two of the pavilion’s pillars, and can’t you see how i feel, in which Al Haddad sheaths a pillar in crocheted layers of pink yarn.

Vikram Divecha presents Degenerative Disarrangement, an existing work made from bricks “relocated” in a new iteration, and Bathing Boulders, a commissioned video work documenting the process of washing large rocks from Divecha’s 2014 work Boulder Plot.

Lantian Xie presents a selection of “things,” including existing works Hassan’s Ashtray, Half-Cup Saffron and Taxidermy Peacock, and a major commission titled A Rumble Interrupted Our Chat—a series of objects and happenings to unfold inside and outside the pavilion throughout the Biennale.

Dr. Mohamed Yousif has refabricated two previous works which were no longer in existence: Al insiyabiyya bil majadeef taht al maa, a large-scale installation of wooden oars, and Al Shwahid, an assemblage of anthropomorphic spoons looking on a burial mound, with a mirror affixed in its center.

Dubai-based artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian will contribute a series of paintings and collages conceived as a creative playground for the publication—treated as an additional site of the exhibition. Deepak Unnikrishnan writes a series of contemporary fables, while WTD magazine present a project mapping informal spaces of play in the UAE.

In a series of essays, art historian Murtaza Vali explores the artistic genealogy of play in the UAE focusing on Hassan Sharif and Abdullah Al Saadi. Uzma Rizvi approaches fluidity and spaces of belonging, and journalist Osman Samiuddin contributes a potted history of cricket in the UAE. Ethnomusicologist Aisha Bilkhair analyses Afro-Emirati music and folkloric games, and Reem Fadda and Maissa Al Qassimi write about the research on Abu Dhabi’s social clubs incorporated in their curation of Emirati Expressions IV 2015.

Several cultural institutions have been invited to join the conversation around the themes of the exhibition, including Sharjah Art Foundation, The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, Alserkal Programming, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre, Warehouse421, and Central Saint Martins, London.

Dubai-based artist Hind Mezaina will develop a program exploring the curatorial concepts through her own practice.

Brunswick Arts
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