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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Prize-winning poet Ben Okri pens an ode to Louvre Abu Dhabi

Nigerian poet and writer narrates his work for new video to launch international campaign to promote November opening 

Award-winning Nigerian writer Ben Okri has been commissioned to write a poem to mark the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. David Levenson / Getty
Award-winning Nigerian writer Ben Okri has been commissioned to write a poem to mark the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. David Levenson / Getty

Awarding-winning Nigerian writer Ben Okri has been commissioned to write a poem to mark the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi next month.

He also narrates the work, entitled Why Are You, You? for a new video released this week to promote the museum on Saadiyat Island.

The title is addressed to the museum, which the poet says is: "A world, and a meeting of worlds."

The Louvre's "dream", Okri says, "Is to unite that which has been separated by history. To return the many to the one."

He describes the museum as a "twenty first century wonder" with: "Universal ideals, visions of art and truth."

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Read more:

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The video shows children and adults from different cultures in locations around the world that range from Manhattan to the streets of Paris, a Japanese bullet train and a dhow sailing off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

It also draws on the concept of artistic universality, one of the museum's core themes, with similar shapes that reoccur in different cultures, from the ancient Pyramids of Egypt to the glass pyramid at the Louvre Paris and the snow-capped peak of Japan's Mount Fuji.

In another series of shapes, the video moves from the cells of a honey comb through an inlaid lid of an Islamic box and a stop sign, to one of the stars that form the roof of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The 58-year-old writer, who won the Booker Prize in 1991 for The Famished Road, concludes: "Together we are more powerful than we know. We connect, we inspire, we multiply illuminations with the unique light of art."

Why are you, you?

Why are you, you?
From this question, a new beginning.
From this question, a new destiny.
For you are a world, and a meeting of worlds.
Our dream is to unite that which has been
separated by history.
To return the many to the one.
A great story unites us all,
beyond colour and creed and gender.
The lightning flash of art
And the music of the heart.
We reflect all cultures, all ways.
We are a twenty first century wonder.
Universal ideals, visions of art and truth.
Now is the turning point of cultures and hopes.
Come with questions, leave with visions.
We are the link between the past and the future.
Here, through art, new possibilities are born. And
new answers are given wings.

Why are you, you?
Because we are mirrors of each other.
Because together we create new worlds.
Together we are more powerful than we know.
We connect, we inspire, we multiply illuminations
with the unique light of art.

 Ben Okri,

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