UAE's 50th anniversary to be marked in Washington with an art exhibition

Presented by The Middle East Institute's Arts and Culture Centre and the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, it will feature works of 12 artists from the Emirates

A photograph from artist Tarek Al-Ghoussein's 'Odysseus' series, which will feature in the exhibition Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE. Photo: Tarek Al-Ghoussein
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A contemporary art exhibition will be showing in Washington next month to mark the UAE's Golden Jubilee.

Taking place in partnership with the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, The Middle East Institute's Arts and Culture Centre will showcase Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE at the MEI Art Gallery. The exhibit opens on December 3.

The show brings together 12 artists whose different concepts, mediums and backgrounds reflect the UAE’s diverse contemporary art scene.

Conceptualised by independent Abu Dhabi curator Munira Al Sayegh, the exhibition will showcase an intergenerational dialogue between the artists as they explore their social, cultural and natural landscapes. All 12 artists call the UAE home, and have roots in the Gulf, the Levant, South-East Asia and the US.

The featured artists are: Ebtisam Abdulaziz; Afra Al Dhaheri; Tarek Al-Ghoussein; Hashel Al Lamki; Shaikha Al Mazrou; Asma Belhamar; Alaa Edris; Lamya Gargash; Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim; Mohammed Kazem; Solimar Miller and Augustine Paredes.

The exhibition will examine themes around permanence and fluidity, time and memory through a range of subjects such as the environment, consumerism and the impact of urbanisation on people and societies.

“I have chosen works that combine playful irreverence alongside a rigorous investigation of a vibrant UAE from the perspective of different nationalities who make it their home,” said Al Sayegh. “In the process, this exhibit challenges standard narratives of the Emirates and speaks to the intricacies present in the country’s art ecosystem.”

Between the Sky and the Earth also marks a significant collaboration for the MEI Art Gallery and the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, both of which aim to provide a platform for thought-provoking artists from the region.

“This partnership between the Middle East Institute and the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery reflects our institutions' belief in the value of collaboration and bridge-building across cultures,” said Kate Seelye, vice president for arts and culture at the Middle East Institute. “By co-presenting an exhibition in Washington, DC with a regional institution, we are able to gain from their expertise and insights to provide Washington audiences with a new lens on the transformations the UAE has experienced over the past 50 years.”

The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery executive director Maya Allison said: “We are delighted and honoured to play a role in the realisation of this exhibition in collaboration with the Middle East Institute. This constellation of work gives a glimpse of the art scene here, from those who’ve been breaking new ground in art for decades, to those who are rising stars of the new generation of artists in the Emirates. After working with many of these artists myself over the last decade, I’m eager to see their work in such a different context, in the US, and through the eyes of its residents.”

Updated: November 24, 2021, 11:10 AM