Bustling second day of Abu Dhabi Art comes to a close
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the second day of Abu Dhabi Art 2019 has come to a close, having continued to welcome crowds of art lovers today to its exhibitions and programmes at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
Now in its 11th edition, the leading art fair features participation from esteemed galleries, artists and curators from around the world, as well as emerging local talent, in its wide-ranging exhibitions and programming. In addition to the commercial aspect of the fair, the event offers specially-commissioned installations, curated exhibitions, and a full public programme of talks, workshops, performances and other activations.
The second day of Abu Dhabi Art featured an illuminating talks programme exploring issues relevant to the global art world today. Moderated by Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, Director and Co-founder of the Honolulu Biennial Foundation, ‘Rising from the Pacific: Emerging Contemporary Art Centres’ discussed the growing profile of the Pacific region as a dynamic locus of Contemporary art and innovation. Insights into this area were provided by eminent speakers Chris Saines, Director and Founder of the Asia Pacific Triennial and Director of the Queensland Art Gallery; Dr. Konrad Ng, Executive Director of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Shangri-La; and Nina Tonga, Curator of the Pacific at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Honolulu Biennial 2019 Curator.
The sessions also included ‘On the Defense: Cultural Identity’, where three artists from diverse backgrounds and nationalities – Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Dana Awartani, and Stanley Siu – discussed the inspirations they draw on from their cultural backgrounds, and the ways in which we can protect our cultural identity.
Today’s performances included a second showing of ‘The Art of Expression’, featuring poetry readings from Untitled Chapters in an interactive installation exploring heritage storytelling and symbolism in the context of the contemporary world. Additionally, ‘Neither Visible or Concealed’, a performance by Beyond: Emerging Artists participants Ayesha Hadhir, Rawdha Khalifa Al Ketbi and Shaikha Al Ketbi, saw the artists activate their installation space, allowing audiences to interact with the artworks and gain insights into the creative process.
The evening saw the introduction of the After Dark initiative to the fair. After Dark, first introduced at the Tate Modern in London, allows registered participants to view art from a wholly different perspective. Once Abu Dhabi Art closed its doors for the day, two robots, remotely controlled by select participants online, explored the exhibitions and galleries in the darkness. The incredibly popular activation was met with resounding success by users, creating avenues where innovation and technology can be used to engage with art.
Jérôme Sans, the acclaimed French curator and art critic, and curator of Abu Dhabi Art 2019’s special section New Horizons: China Today, said: “It is a great opportunity that we have been invited here to show the panorama of Chinese artists because there is a clear connection to be developed between these two parts of the world – with so much in common.
“I think this is one of the first times these two worlds are put together like this, so we are very much looking forward to new connections because it is like two members of the family who have so much to say but don’t know each other, and I’m happy to be able to connect these two parts of the world.”
The third and final day of Abu Dhabi Art will continue its programme of exhibits, guided tours, interactive workshops and cultural activations for visitors of all ages. Highlights include a masterclass by the Naqsh Collective, which will introduce participants to some of the oldest Palestinians textile motifs and allow them to learn from women who use the art of cross-stitch and fabric to bring their stories to life.
A variety of talks will take place, including ‘The Artist, The Publisher, The Migrator’ with artist Mohamed Melehi, where he speaks on his art practice and career that has placed him at the forefront of postcolonial Moroccan art and modernism in the Global South. Comité Colbert will also host its last talk on French luxury and contemporary art, as part of its programme of events examining French and Emirati craftsmanship.
Paolo Colombo, curator of the Gateway exhibition, will be in discussion with commissioned artists Lamya Gargah and Nima Nabavi and Senior Curator at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Sarah Collins. They will discuss the ways in which archaeological artefacts and objects of anthropological interest can be exhibited with works of contemporary art.