Universes in Universe

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Artists: Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie, Dr. Mohamed Yousif

Curator: Hammad Nasar

Commissioner: Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development

13 May - 26 November 2017

Photo Tour

National pavilion of the UAE
Arsenale - Sale d'Armi

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play

2017 is the fifth participation of the United Arab Emirates at the International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia.

Curated by Hammad Nasar, the exhibition will explore a strand of artistic practice in the UAE through the analogy of play. Featuring existing works, re-fabrication of 'lost' works and new commissions, the exhibition will stage a set of nested questions: Where does 'playfulness' in artistic practice come from ? How and where is 'play' nurtured? What does 'play' do?

"We are delighted to work with this group of contemporary artists in shaping an exhibition that stages an inter-generational conversation," says Hammad Nasar. “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.” “These artists fit within an artistic trajectory in the UAE of play and playfulness as a mode of creation. They variously experiment with materials, sound, texts and physical and social processes as part of their artmaking.”

The Artists

The five artists who are nationals and long-term residents who call the UAE home.

(For the biographies, click on the images)

Publication - an additional site and expansion

The accompanying publication will serve both as an additional site of the exhibition, and as its speculative expansion, with newly commissioned texts by contributors, including Aisha Bilkhair, Reem Fadda and Maisa Al Qassimi, Uzma Rizvi, Osman Samiuddin, and Murtaza Vali, as well as a series of paintings and collages by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian.
more information

Institutions join with own programming

In line with the curatorial premise, several cultural institutions across the UAE have been invited to join the conversation around the themes of the exhibition with activations in their own programming. 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.

Dubai based artist Hind Mezaina has been commissioned to develop a program for the National Pavilion UAE exploring the curatorial concepts through her own practice.

Research for the publication was done in collaboration with Art Jameel.

Ongoing conversation

"We see this exhibition as a contribution and extension to an ongoing conversation that continues beyond the time of the exhibition, and that the programing generated by each institution as a starting point for ongoing discussions," says Khulood Al Atiyat, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. "These events will take multiple forms, including artist talks, workshops, game sessions, a film series, or artist interventions."

Press information, 16 January 2017, updated 12 April 2017
Download press release
© Images on top: Universes in Universe. Portraits: Courtesy National Pavilion UAE


Organizer, contact:
National Pavilion UAE,
la Biennale di Venezia
PO Box 62086
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Website | Email

Media requests:
+971 (0)2 641 2345

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