UAE Announces Artists and Theme for National Pavilion at 2017 Venice Biennale

The country has also invited many national cultural institutions to take part.

The participating artist Mohamed Yousif. Courtesy National Pavilion UAE.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the five artists who will be representing the country at the 57th Venice Biennale. The exhibition entitled “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play,” will explore artistic practices in the UAE through the analogy of play.

The exhibition, which has been commissioned by Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, will feature work by Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie, and Dr. Mohamed Yousif, all of whom are UAE nationals or long term residents in the country.

“We are delighted to work with this group of contemporary artists in shaping an exhibition that stages an inter-generational conversation,” exhibition curator Hammad Nasar said in a statement. “Through the artists’ diverse and distinctive practices, we believe that this exhibition will bring to life wider cultural and societal ideas around how ‘play’ functions in the world—as a source of vitality and a method of navigation.”

Nasar will curate an exhibition of existing works, re-fabricated “lost works”, and new commissions based around a series of questions: Where does playfulness in artistic practice come from? How and where is play nurtured? What does play do?

In addition to the exhibition, cultural institutions from across the UAE have been invited to take part as “interlocutors” exploring the themes of the show. Confirmed organizations include the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, Alserkal Avenue, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre, and Warehouse421.

“We see this exhibition as a contribution and extension to an ongoing conversation that continues beyond the time of the exhibition, and the programming generated by each institution as a starting point for ongoing discussions,” says Khulood Al Atiyat, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation in a statement. “These events will take multiple forms, including artist talks, workshops, game sessions, a film series, or artist interventions.”

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