UAE Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2017 will feature five UAE-based contemporary artists.
Curated by Hammad Nasar, the exhibition “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play” will explore a strand of artistic practice in the UAE through the analogy of play.
On 16 January 2017, the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced the five UAE-based contemporary artists who will be participating at the 57th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale), running from 13 May to 26 November 2017. The exhibition is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
Entitled after a traditional game played across cultures around the world, “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play” explores artistic practices in the UAE through the analogy of play, and features five UAE-based contemporary artists, including Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie and Dr Mohamed Yousif.
Curated by curator, writer and former Head of Research and Programmes (2012-2016) at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong, Hammad Nasar, the exhibition features existing works by the artists, as well as re-fabrication of “lost” works and new commissions. The exhibition will function as a stage for a set of nested questions: where does “playfulness” in artistic practice come from? How and where is “play” nurtured? What does “play” do?
An accompanying publication will serve as an additional site for the exhibition and as its “speculative expansion”, including newly commissioned texts by Aisha Bilkhair, Uzma Rizvi and Murtaza Vali, among other contributors to be announced in the coming months.
Other artists, architects and creative writers, like Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh & Hesam Rahmanian, Deepak Unikrishnan and WTD magazine, have also been invited to intervene and respond to the themes of the exhibition with new commissions. In addition, several cultural institutions in the UAE have been invited to act as interlocutors in exploring the theme of the exhibition, such as Sharjah Art Foundation, The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, Alserkal Programming, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre and Warehouse421. The institutions will “extend, expand, critique, reflect and respond” to the myriad issues posed by the Venice Biennale exhibition, created a forum and “a starting point for ongoing discussions”, as Khulood Al Atiyat, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation comments.
As quoted in the press release (PDF download), Hammad Nasar explains about the upcoming exhibition that “stages an inter-generational conversation”:
Through the artists’ diverse and distinctive practices, we believe that this exhibition will bring to life wider cultural and societal ideas of how ‘play’ functions in the world—as a source of vitality and a method of navigation.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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