Special Olympics World Games: Six new public artworks unveiled in Abu Dhabi to celebrate sporting event

The artworks will form part of a permanent exhibition at Manarat Al Saadiyat

Pascale Martine Tayou's sculpture, which was unveiled at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saturday
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Wael Shawky and Pascale Martine Tayou are two of the internationally renowned artists who have created public artworks, unveiled in Abu Dhabi yesterday, that celebrate people of determination.

The six artworks, on display at Manarat Al Saadiyat, were commissioned by Special Olympics World Games – Abu Dhabi and will form part of a permanent exhibition in the newly named Special Olympics Garden.

Shawky, an Egyptian artist who has had solo exhibitions all over the world, has made a carved, wooden wall featuring depictions of cities and people. Shawky will add carvings to the wall inspired by the stories he encounters during the Games.

Tayou, an artist from Cameroon who uses found materials, has created a wall of trees, which shoot horizontally and sprout brightly coloured plastic bags instead of leaves, to challenge the viewer's perception.

Alongside these works is Paris-based artist Etel Adnan’s mural of ceramic tiles, as well as a sculpture of two figures holding the “Flame of Hope” by Korean artist Noh Jun. Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal and Lebanese artist Nadim Karam have also contributed to the project, which was created in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Art.

Wael Shawky's animal-themed wooden wall will be on permanent display at the newly named Special Olympics Garden 

"The World Games held in Abu Dhabi is an extremely important reminder that a human being is primarily a soul, a mind, a spirit, unified with a body, of course, and that both need equal attention," said Adnan. "These athletes with their special determination give us hope for human nature. They give us more than they know. I designed this ceramic wall to celebrate the energy, the joy that we want to share with them."

Shawky added: “I have always been fascinated by history – who frames it, who narrates it, the notion that there are multiple histories in any one moment but always one version that rises above the rest.

"The joy in [the] Special Olympics is that everyone who participates is already a victor. Every single participant, in choosing to be part of the Games or part of the community behind the Games, conquers challenges, defines how their battles are framed, [while] recognising they are part of a far greater story – one of human determination, progression and bravery."

Noh Jun's sculpture features two figures holding the 'Flame of Hope'

Tala Al Ramahi, chief strategy officer for the Games, which got under way on Thursday night, said: “These public artworks will be a permanent reminder of the importance of the Special Olympics message, ensuring generations to come benefit from the legacy of hosting these global Games in the Middle East for the very first time.”

All six artists will be running workshops at Manarat Al Saadiyat for people of determination throughout the Games, which conclude on March 21.