“The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence” brings together over 18 artists from the 1960s until now.
Held at the Manarat Al Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, the second exhibition from the collection brings together more than 25 artworks ranging from installations to works on paper and paintings.
“The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence”, on at Manarat Al Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi from 8 March to 29 July 2017, brings together international artists who develop performance, process and human presence in their practice. Taking a transcultural perspective on art since the 1960s, the exhibition features more than 18 artists and a range of media, such as installation, painting, photography, sculpture, video and works on paper.
Performance-based artistic practice flourished in the 1960s, where it often focused on the body in an effort to move away from traditional art materials. The artists in this exhibition use performance in a number of ways, ranging from choreographed interventions to spontaneous actions.
The process section of the exhibition focuses on the act of creation. It features work that illuminates the methodology used and presents photographs, films, videos and archival documentation. The part of the exhibition about presence looks at artworks and traces of the physical act of making them that the artists have left behind. There are three immersive installations, as well as works on paper and a video installation.
The pieces are from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum collection and it is their second exhibition. Richard Armstrong, Director of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said:
The Creative Act presents some of the dynamic, original curatorial research underway for the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and draws back the curtain on the creative process through the work of a diverse group of artists featured in the growing collection. Many works in the exhibition focus on particular locales, among them Abu Dhabi, London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo. Both individually and collectively, they reveal a sense of wonder and magic that can be found in the everyday.
Art Radar takes a look at a few of the artists highlighted in the exhibition.
1. Susan Hefuna
German-Egyptian visual artist Susan Hefuna’s creative practice involves drawings, installations, performances, photographs, sculptures and videos. She draws inspiration from her mixed cultural experiences in order to question concepts of identity. Her work in the exhibition is a video installation that looks at the similarities between choreographed dance and the movement in people’s everyday lives in city streets. Her work Building (2009) was inspired by the streets of New York and their grid-like structure, which reminded her of the patterns in Egyptian and Islamic Mashrabiya window screens. In an interview with Artspace, Hefuna explains:
I am always attracted to the abstract form of structures—forms like DNA, molecules, and modules, the details in science that inform the bigger structures of life. I have studied the patterns of mashrabiyas in Cairo since childhood, and they inspired many of my drawings. I then discovered similarities between my drawings and molecular structures, especially in the joins where the lines intersect one another. All my work is inspired by structure.
2. Mohammed Kazem
Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem is a pioneering conceptual artist who uses the everyday in order to explore global changes. He has worked with sound on paper since the 1990s and makes visible sound and movement. His work is shown as part of the performance section, given that his practice creates artifacts from specific interventions. His immersive installation Direction (2002) is a 360-degree projection of the sea within an enclosed chamber, which creates the sensation of being lost at sea. Kazem explains that in his work endeavours to “display visually the sounds of music or the structure of a shape”.
3. Tanaka Atsuko
Avant-garde Japanese artist Tanaka Atsuko was involved in the Gutai Art Association (Japan, 1954–1972). It was the first post-war Japanese art movement that sought to radically change the context of art practice, which they did through creating large-scale multimedia environments, performances and theatrical events. They explored the relationship between the body and materiality. Tanaka worked in abstract paintings, sculptures, performances and installations and took inspiration from everyday objects, such as textiles, doorbells and light bulbs. She was perhaps best know for the work Electric Dress (1956/1986), which was made from hundreds of flashing lights and cables that bury the wearer.
4. Rasheed Araeen
Rasheed Araeen is a Pakistan-born conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and curator. Alongside his artistic practice, he has been involved with activist organisations such as the Black Panthers and Artists for Democracy, and he founded the critical journals Black Phoenix and Third Text. Araeen’s piece Chakras I (1969–70/1987) was first performed on London’s Thames River on 21 February 1970, when he released 16 red painted discs into the water in front of resident artists, friends and members of the public. He documented how the pieces floated down the river. This work emerged from a fascination to watching floating pieces of wood and plastics that were being pushed around by currents. Exhibition curator Maisa Al Qassimi explained:
Araeen saw these floating objects as a metaphor for the evolution of the city with the influx of migrants from Africa, the Caribbean Islands, East Asia, and Europe, who clustered and settled in various areas of London. For Araeen, the movement and rearrangement of the objects in the water reflected the varying communities around the city.
6. Shiraga Kazuo
Japanese artist Shiraga Kazuo, one of the leading members of the Gutai Art Association (Japan, 1954–1972), was best known for his performative painting practice. He was influenced by American Abstract Expressionism and he was inspired by transforming everyday life into works of art. He would often hang himself over a canvas to paint, gently swinging and painting with his feet. He also used mud as a medium, covering his body with it as if it were thick paint. He was drawn to the thicker material nature of these materials, as opposed to the ink-based pigments of his early training.
7. Anish Kapoor
Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor is known for his large-scale sculptures that evoke nature and living organisms. Kapoor describes his work as “manipulating the viewer into a specific relation with both space and time”. He explains that through his narrative and cinematographic approach he seeks to stretch the object so that it is more than just its use. His work is being shown as part of the “process” section of the exhibition.
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