Guggenheim Abu Dhabi to Present Four-Day Programme of Events with Artist Hassan Hajjaj

As part of its year-round public programme, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is presenting work by Moroccan-British artist Hassan Hajjaj in two events at Al Hosn’s Cultural Foundation. From 20-23 November, the four-day programme Hassan Hajjaj: From the Streets of Marrakech to the Heart of Abu Dhabi will feature a pop-up photography studio and a live performance of Gnawa music and dance.

Based between London and Marrakech, Hassan Hajjaj is primarily a photographer, but also works in the worlds of film, fashion, furniture design, installation, and musical performances. His nine-channel video My Rock Stars Experimental: Volume 2 (2017) and installation Le Salon (2017), both in the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection, demonstrate his interdisciplinary approach.

Maisa Al Qassimi, Senior Project Manager, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, said: “Hassan Hajjaj is a fresh and innovative artist, bringing a distinct vision to all his creative endeavours. We are thrilled to be collaborating with him here in Abu Dhabi, allowing our local community to interact with the artist by participating in his renowned portrait series, and experiencing the fascinating tradition of a Gnawa performance. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi strives to foster a deeper understanding of contemporary artistic practices in our audiences, and Hajjaj’s unique cross-cultural perspective is sure to engage and inspire.”

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi events at the Cultural Foundation include Be Your Own Rock Star, an interactive pop-up photography studio where members of the public may sign up to pose for one of the artist’s renowned portraits. In a vibrant mix of street style and cultural references, those participating will pose in exuberant costumes and sets of the artist’s own design that fuse both Khaleeji and Moroccan aesthetics. Emirati cultural references from street food and traditional attire will transform participants to represent a socially diverse Abu Dhabi.

Be Your Own Rock Star will be taking place from 20-23 November in the Cultural Foundation courtyard. Online registration to participate in the photography studio is available at Event Brite.

The four-day programme will come to a close on the evening of 23 November with Gnawa Now with Masters Marouane Lbahja and Simo Lagnawi, a live performance of Gnawa music and dance. Gnawa is an ancient African-Moroccan trance musical that brings together ritual poetry and traditional music and dance.  Visitors will experience a rhythmic performance of intensifying music with the unique sounds of the krakebs (castanets) and gimbri (a three-stringed guitar). This live event will be led by Gnawa Masters Marouane Lbahja and Simo Lagnawi in collaboration with artist Hajjaj.

Gnawa Now will take place at 8:30pm on 23 November in the Cultural Foundation Amphitheatre. Tickets are 30 AED and will be available through the Cultural Foundation website.

Entirely self-taught, Hajjaj uses his camera to both document and embellish the culture and identity of societies in the midst of globalisation and diaspora. He stages portraits of people on the street in cities around the world, posing them as fashion models in brightly patterned costumes and sets designed by him. His designs reference the counterfeit brand name culture found in London street markets and the souqs of Marrakech, and he focuses particularly on photographing figures of African, Caribbean or Middle East descent that live far from their places of origin. His work celebrates dynamic social diversity while making an urgent call to empower difference.

For enquiries, and for further information about Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s Hassan Hajjaj: From the Streets of Marrakech to the Heart of Abu Dhabi events, please contact [email protected].

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