What’s in store: a preview of Abu Dhabi Art’s seventh edition
Abu Dhabi Art returns for its seventh edition this week, from Wednesday to Saturday at Manarat Al Saadiyat, with 40 exhibiting galleries and commissioned installations, interactive performances, artist talks, book launches, film screenings, children’s workshops plus a dynamic line-up of programmes.
This year’s fair, which is organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, presents a rigorously curated grouping of galleries from the Middle East, Europe, North America, and Asia, with sections focusing on contemporary and modern art, as well as design and emerging artists.
Visitors can encounter work by Ai Wei Wei at Lisson Gallery and Damien Hirst at Paul Stolper (London galleries) alongside pieces by established names in the region’s art scene, such as Pouran Jinchi at The Third Line (Dubai) and Laila Shawa at Gallery One (Palestine).
Bliss, a selection of live and interactive performances curated by Fabrice Bousteau and inspired by the character of Abu Dhabi, will also present film screenings.
Returning for its third consecutive year, performance programme Durub Al Tawaya will make the entire city its canvas under the direction of visionary Egyptian curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh.
Artificial intelligence buffs can slip on a futuristic headset, follow a computer-generated voice issuing orders and join Remote Abu Dhabi, Berlin artist collective Rimini Protokoll’s treasure hunt that will send groups of 50 weaving through the urban landscape in search of clues.
Also on the docket is Radouan Mriziga’s choreographed piece that references Islamic geometry and Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, a screening of the 1969 film The Night of Counting the Years (The Mummy, 1969) by Shadi Abdel Salam, and Le Cri, a performance by French choreographer Nacera Belaza, which marries jazz beats to classical and contemporary sequences.
This year’s line-up of talks and lectures brings together some of the art world’s leading museum directors, critics and thinkers, with a timely focus on the museums and cultural institutions under way on Saadiyat Island.
The Art Architecture Statement Talk on Wednesday is new to the programme. Louvre Abu Dhabi architect Jean Nouvel will talk about the museum’s dome and its Rain of Light concept, which is inspired by the country’s architectural groundings.
An Instant Urban Phenomenon is a public talk on Saturday, part of the Design Lab programme, which will bring UAE students and graduates together to cultivate their knowledge of architecture through a “visual urban analysis” of Abu Dhabi – the results of which form the basis for the fair’s cutting edge Design Programme.
“The talk will explore and debate what constitutes the identity of Abu Dhabi and will interrogate and debate the soundness and sustainability of the city’s foundations, and understanding of what institutes a global 21st century city,” says panellist Yasser Elsheshtawy, associate professor of architecture at the United Arab Emirates University and curator of the National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition (2016).
Younger artists and their families will enjoy engaging in kid-focused tours of the Art Galleries Hall, scheduled to place every day from 12.15pm to 1.30pm, as well as making their own mini-masterpieces in the Art Zone.
Running in tandem with Abu Dhabi Art is the biannual exhibition Emirati Expressions: Conventions of Arts, a group show from 16 Emirati artists, who were commissioned to create design and fine art projects that were deeply rooted in the country’s cultural heritage.
This year, visitors can avoid queuing and the disappointment of overbooked events by registering for an access card on Abu Dhabi Art’s new website, where they can also view an in-depth description of the full public programme and sign up for talks, performances, workshops and activities.
• For programme details and to register in advance for Abu Dhabi Art, visit www.abudhabiart.ae