UNITED ARAB EMIRATES SCULPTURE SYMPOSIUM
Salwa Zeidan, gallerist and an organiser of the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Sculpture Symposium (ADISS), (25 February to 7 April 2010 at Zayed University) talks to Art Radar about the mission of ADISS, government sponsorship of the arts and her favourite Emirati sculptor.
Her gallery, the Salwa Zeidan Gallery. has collaborated with Zayed University to bring ADISS to Abu Dhabi. Its theme is “Bridging Societies Through the Language of Art,” and involves bringing specially commissioned sculpture to the city as well as opening a dialogue about public art in Abu Dhabi.
What is the mission of ADISS?
Our mission is mainly to make art available and accessible to everyone so that ordinary people from all walks of life can enjoy a piece of art and interact with it. We also want to create an artistic atmosphere in Abu Dhabi for residents and visitors to enjoy. As beautiful and peaceful as it is, Abu Dhabi is missing public art in its streets and roundabouts and so I believe we came at the right time to compliment the city with these monumental pieces of art.
Has its mission changed since its conception?
No. However, it became more interesting.. to see how many people are so excited about seeing the sculptures in the streets.
How is ADISS different from other art-related international symposiums?
Well it is taking place in Abu Dhabi, a city known for its high-quality events but the most significant difference is that it is under the patronage of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and is being organized by major entities such as Zayed University and the Municipality – all of these factors have elevated the project to a national scale.
How will ADISS impact the local art scene?
It is very important to see art every day in our lives, and interact with it til it becomes a permanent part of our lives. Events such as ADISS have the power to enrich the art scene as a whole by making it more common and this is very important for a contemporary country such as Abu Dhabi.
What about its global impact?
If we look around the world, we see the economy is not at its best, and this situation is reflecting on the art scene in general, so it is in some areas getting from bad to worse for artists. Abu Dhabi is extending so much attention towards art through Art Abu Dhabi, ADISS and other cultural initiatives by ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage) and TDIC (Tourism Development and Investment Company), and through future projects that are being developed such as Saadiyat (the Art district) – this is very encouraging for artists from all over the world as it places art at the forefront of sociological evolution. Such progress is very promising for artists from all walks of life including myself.
Do you have a favorite piece being created for ADISS? If so, why?
I like most of the pieces being created, the most important thing is that they are being created in Abu Dhabi and for Abu Dhabi the city that I love, and these pieces are going to stay, the thought that we are creating a new reality for this city is great. When I see how these blocks are being transformed into wonderful sculptures everyday and how the artists are so happy to be here to create and leave their work on this land, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. We are about to change the face of Abu Dhabi with all these great artworks!
How does the general population in Abu Dhabi view art, and will their perceptions change after ADISS?
I’m sure it is going to help the change, and eventually their perception about art will change since living with art on a daily basis is bound to change their way of thinking about art in general no matter what the current state of mind may be.
Is public art the best way for people to include art in their everyday lives?
I guess so, it broadens their horizons to a new reality that will bring forth new questions and new answers which will eventually impact their evolution positively.
The Abu Dhabi art scene is thriving? Is there anything you would like to change? Why? Regarding the Abu Dhabi art scene, do you have any favorite local artists?
Hassan Sharif is my favorate Emirati artist… He is also one of the Symposium artists working on a great piece called “step” which is going to be 6 meters high. Hassan was the first Emirati national to pursue a career as an artist in the UAE; he has and continues to be one of the most significant influences on the local art scene. There are a few young local artists that I like as well, whom I believe have lots of potential to advance and grow. As a gallerist I have made it my mission to find such talents, nurture them, offer them a place to exhibit their works and give them the right advice to help them realize their full abilities.
I believe local artists will advance much more once the art projects in Abu Dhabi are fully realized and once they have the chance to see and live with works by some of the most influencial artists of our time. They will definitely develop their talents even more and are keen to do so… I see them working very hard at developing themselves and have all the tools they need at their finger tips so why not? I’m very optimistic about the local art scene and find that all the support they are receiving from their rulers and their governments is bound to strenghten their resolve even further and enable them to acquire their place on the international art arena.
Is there any particular news or information you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes I would like them to come and visit this wonderful City that is giving so much attention to art, culture and music, when the whole world is so busy with other matters and thus taking art for granted. Here art has been taken to another dimension and is becoming part of its identity. It is wonderful to see the government focusing on the cultural aspect of the country to make cultural events and artifacts more accessible to the entire community. I wish all the governments of the world paid as much attention to culture, perhaps there will be no more wars!
On 14 March 2010, there will be a public art discussion at Zayed University. Hassan Sharif from UAE, Caroline Ramersdorfer from Austria, Ehab El Laban from Egypt, Billy Lee from United Kingdom and Jon Barlow Hudson from USA will talk about the Public Art, its effect and its importance within the premises of Abu Dhabi at the scheduled lecture programme. Other ADISS events can be found here.
- Art industry elite meet at inaugural Abu Dhabi art fair – December 2009
- Where is the Sharjah Art Museum heading? – Manal Ataya, Sharjah Museums Director – June 2009
- Middle Eastern, Indian, and Pakistani artists show seminal works in 3-city exhibition: Lines of Control – February 2009
- The Dubai art market and its future – Nation, Guardian – December 2008