Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath will curate Abu Dhabi Art’s exhibition of young artists, titled Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. The duo have tapped Hashel Al Lamki, Maitha Abdalla and Christopher Benton for the November show.
Bardaouil and Fellrath, who collaborate as Art Reoriented, are well-known to the UAE art world. They curated the National Pavilion UAE presentation of Nujoom Alghanem for the Venice Biennale in 2019, and the show Ways of Seeing at the NYUAD Art Gallery in 2018, among other projects. They pride themselves on thinking outside of traditional contemporary art parameters to approach artworks anew.
“We are thrilled to be curating Abu Dhabi Art's 2021 Beyond: Emerging Artists programme,” the pair said. “The next edition will showcase new commissions by three very diverse artists whose practices are marked by a truly interdisciplinary approach, in both conceptual reference and choice of media.”
Al Lamki and Abdalla are two of the co-founders of Abu Dhabi’s Bait 15, an artist-run studio and exhibition space in the former villa of the painter Mohamed Al Mazrouei. Al Lamki creates expansive paintings and appropriative installations that take stock of Gulf and Arab identity, while Abdalla explores the language of theatre, folklore and mythology to question how people present themselves to the world.
All three are former fellows of the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship programme, run by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, with Benton having graduated most recently. The US artist, who lives in Dubai, produced an acclaimed installation – How to Rest – for last year’s Dubai Design Week that was inspired by the chairs on the pavement where shopkeepers and passers-by sit in clement weather. He collected them over the course of two years and then swapped over the legs and arms among them to form new, chimaera-like seats.
Beyond: Emerging Art takes place in Manarat Al Saadiyat during Abu Dhabi Art and remains after the fair closes.
“With their critical insights into modern and contemporary art from the region, Bardaouil and Fellrath will bring a deeply informed art-historical context and perspective to bear on what can be viewed as a new moment for the contemporary Emirati art scene today,” said Dyala Nusseibeh, the fair's director.
One of the show's crucial aspects is the mentorship involved behind the scenes. Abu Dhabi Art, as a government-run art fair, has twin goals of sales and supporting the growing artistic community in the capital.
Abdalla, who was also a part of the fair's performance strand in 2020, refers to a new project she is undertaking that will debut at the exhibition.
“My work often revolves around local stories, folktales and mythology and explores the boundaries of these stories through performance,” said Abdalla. “I plan on exploring one of these folktales in particular this year, a folkloric female character who pushes boundaries and is feared by the community. Working with Sam and Till will be fantastic. They are curators that I have been following and admiring.”
Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021 will be on show at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Wednesday, November 17 until Saturday, January 22, 2022