Popular Culture & the City opens at Manarat Al Saadiyat

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The exhibition Popular Culture & the City was opened today by HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi. Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and featuring several artworks from their collection, the new exhibition reveals the intriguing layers of the concept of the ‘city’ and how they contribute to our narrative of dominant and circulated culture.

Running until 5 October, Popular Culture & the City brings together exceptional European, American and Middle Eastern Pop Art reflecting the collective language and identity of our time, in a variety of media including collage, sculpture, painting and installation works. The artists have used the idea of the ‘city’ as their main inspiration, as complex settings fuelled by money, cars, oil, technology and, most importantly, societies. Urban centres are regarded as the ultimate manifestation of modernity but also the cradle of popular culture, gathering together sound, imagery and movement in the forms of advertising, mass production of consumer goods, music, art, literature, food or technology.

Works from 14 international artists are featured in the exhibition, including pieces from Alighiero Boetti, Erwin Wurm, Fabrice Hybert, Frank Stella, Hassan Sharif, Jacques Villeglé, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. Artwork from Keith Haring, Rokni Haerizadeh, Robert Hammond, Robert Therrien, Wafa Hourani and Taysir Batniji is also on display.

The exhibition is accompanied by the Today is Tomorrow: Photolife Abu Dhabi workshop, a collaboration between emerging artists and professionals from other disciplines (philosophers, novelist, poets, filmmakers, musicians, architects, journalists, anthropologists, socialists, environmentalists). Today is Tomorrow invites participants to work together to build an imaginary architectural model by collating photography which combines the oldest buildings in Abu Dhabi with imaginary futuristic monuments and landmarks. The outcome of the workshop will be an architectural mixed-media installation featuring light, sound and video projection.

HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are delighted to bring together this impressive selection of works by some of the most prominent artists from around the world for this exhibition and its accompanying workshops. The artworks on display from DCT Abu Dhabi’s collection provide an in-depth look into the complexity and diversity of modern and contemporary urban landscapes.

“These exhibitions play a vital role in providing an accessible platform for the local community to interact with world-class artworks, and consequently further strengthen Abu Dhabi’s status as a centre for creativity, artistic thought and cultural dialogue.” Ghobash added.

“Photolife” is a concept and technique started in 2004 by artist Wafa Hourani, who is participating in the exhibition. It utilises photography in a variety of ways to reflect the power of illusion and construct a better future through art. Using this technique, Today is Tomorrow aims to examine the vision of the utopian city societies aspire to, while creating an urgent awareness of our present social and environmental realities. The sessions will shed light on the iconic collective history of Abu Dhabi through playful photographic techniques, science fiction methods and futuristic expressions.

Today is Tomorrow: Photolife Abu Dhabi will take place at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 21-25 July, 9am to 4pm.

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