Programme will see new commissions created by UAE-based artists Majd Alloush, Sarah Al Mehairi and Mohamed Khalid
Works to be showcased at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 16 November 2022 to 22 January 2023
Abu Dhabi Art has announced Abed Al Kadiri, multidisciplinary artist and Co-Founder and Director of Lebanon-based publisher Dongola Limited Editions, as guest curator for its annual Beyond: Emerging Artists programme.
As part of the year-round programme, Al Kadiri will mentor three UAE-based emerging artists, Majd Alloush (Syria), Sarah Al Mehairi (UAE) and Mohamed Khalid (Sri Lanka), as they create new commissioned works to be exhibited at the art fair in November. Each artist will bring their unique perspective to explorations of the notions of borders, home, man-made territories, and geographical mapping, with a special focus on artists’ books.
The Beyond: Emerging Artists programme will run alongside an iteration of Al Kadiri’s acclaimed pandemic undertaking Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project, which will be travelling to Al Ain and will be on view at Qasr Al Muwaiji starting from 16 November, coinciding with the opening of the fair.
Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art, said, “Our annual Beyond: Emerging Artists programme seeks to propel UAE-based artists forward on an international level, enabling them to create ambitious new work with guidance from the guest curator and with funds and opportunity provided by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Having Abed Al Kadiri curate this year’s programme is extremely exciting, and we are all looking forward to seeing what emerges from this wonderful collaboration. Alongside this exhibition, we will also have Abed’s Cities Under Quarantine, which celebrates the importance of the tangible and the tactile in an era of rapid digital innovations and metaverse compulsions.”
“I am very excited to be curating this year’s Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond: Emerging Artists,” said Al Kadiri. “In this edition, I hope to spark deep conversation that weaves the works of the three artists together while approaching the exhibition with a new perspective by focussing on the practice of artist’s book making. I am very happy to be working with the passionate young artists I have selected for this edition, who are embracing this challenge head on. Each one of these artists has a strong individual
voice that is rooted in contemporary concerns around negotiating land and borders, and the notion of home. I am looking forward to the conversations we are going to generate.”
As an artist, Al Kadiri focusses on the notion of translating violence and investigates repressed personal and collective traumatic experiences, while emphasising the destruction of cultural heritage, migration and belonging. As the Director of Dongola, he helps create limited edition artists’ books by collaborating with artists, authors and designers to offer unconventional perspectives on art and contemporary topics in the MENASA region today.
Despite coming from diverse backgrounds and employing differing artistic practices, all three of the Beyond selected artists explore themes of identity in their work. Alloush challenges the notion of borders by exploring geopolitics and social and environmental issues, such as the ramifications of war and displacement, while Khalid examines the materiality of everyday objects and coaxes out their metaphorical potential. Al Mehairi’s work investigates her presence within the elements of ever-changing environments, breaking them down, weaving through fact and fiction and building a language while exploring these interrelationships.
Alloush said, “I am honoured to be selected for Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond: Emerging Artists programme this year. I am also excited to work with Abed Al Kadiri – we have had very fruitful conversations in our brainstorming sessions together and came up with great ideas to develop. In my work, I find myself studying borders as a concept, content and medium, by exploring geopolitics and social and environmental issues. I find myself rethinking the term ‘digital cartography’ and the meaning behind cartography in general. I hope to produce works that investigate the idea of borders in depth, dismantling and questioning the idea of these lines that divides us.”
Khalid added, “I appreciate the support Abu Dhabi Art has been providing to the artist community here in the UAE, giving us the opportunity and space to not only showcase our work locally but also beyond. New perspectives and insights from the international curators brought on board by Abu Dhabi Art are extremely helpful. Abed and I have been having interesting conversations about the individual and how feelings are translated into work and vice versa. My practice looks into the individual, using mundane materials and trying to coax out their metaphorical potential.”
Al Mehairi said, “I’m very excited and honoured to be a part of this year’s edition of Beyond: Emerging Artists. The support we have received so far from the Abu Dhabi Art team and our curator, Abed Al Kadiri, has helped us develop our practice even further, truly looking beyond. Being on this journey with fellow artists and friends is special and gives us a unique space in which to be challenged and to grow together, both as a group and individually. I’m particularly excited to work with the scale and new forms in my practice and, through the process, have it translated into an artist’s book.”
In addition to the Beyond: Emerging Artists artworks, visitors to Al Ain will see Al Kadiri’s acclaimed Cities Under Quarantine project exhibition, featuring more than 50 renowned Arab artists including Dia Al-Azzawi, Mona Saudi, Mohammad Omar Khalil and Mohammad Kazem, who drew from their unique experiences of isolation during the COVID-19 lockdown to create their works. In the midst of a global crisis, these artists were faced with the challenge of breaking away from their studio practice of working with canvas or sculpture and embracing another, more intimate, medium: the artist’s book. Each artist was given a book in the format of their choice – either a Leporello or a hand-stitched sketch book – ready to be filled with their work.
Beyond: Emerging Artists 2022 will be on show at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 16 November 2022 until 22 January 2023.
Cities Under Quarantine will be on show at Qasr Al Muwaiji in Al Ain from 16 November 2022 until 22 January 2023.
The fair’s upcoming edition will be open to the public at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Wednesday 16 November to Sunday 20 November 2022.