Louvre Abu Dhabi is now hosting the first edition of a new annual contemporary art exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021, which takes place in the Louvre Abu Dhabi Forum until March 27, 2022.
This exhibition presents the works of seven talented artists selected for the Richard Mille Art Prize and residing in the United Arab Emirates: Cristiana de Marchi, Latifa Saeed, Mays Albaik, Mohammed Kazem, Nasser Alzayani, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, and Taus Makhacheva.
Seven artists were invited to respond to the theme “Memory, Time and Territory”. They proposed works that question the notions of memory and belonging, and explore the geography of identities through their own relationships to territories.
The artists have interpreted the theme in their own way through their works, which they bring to life in a variety of media.
Nasser Alzayani’s installation Watering the distant, deserting the near was completed this year. Laid out like museum exponat, an arrangement of sand tablets are slowly falling apart, with particles from the fragments, which bear raised lines of Arabic script, breaking off until they become no more than dust. Memory functions similarly, each detail chipped off by external conditions, or simply, the inability of the thought to hold itself together.
“I’m thinking of sand as a metaphor for memory. It’s fragile; it breaks apart. It is reformed into these objects that can hold new meaning, and it’s only through their reconstruction that we begin to have a complete story and history of this place,” artist says.
The Pathway by Latifa Saeed exudes a kind of purity. Remodelling pavement bricks common in Dubai and other emirates, her glass version of these building blocks sit quietly on the floor. By turning the typically hard material into something breakable, artist compels us to slow down when approaching the piece.
Established Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem presents Photographs with Flags, a series of photographs produced in 1997 and then again in 2003. The images show the younger artist looking out from construction sites, standing next to marker flags erected around Al Mamzar, which sits between Dubai and Sharjah, and Al Khan in Sharjah.
“I was capturing these elements that surrounded me in the city, which was booming, especially Dubai. We saw the city was growing vertically, but also creeping horizontally to the sea,” he recalls, noting that the future he referred to in these photographs has now become the present.
Al Ghoussein’s lens casts its eyes beyond horizons or from above. series Odysseus by Tarek Al-Ghoussein’s features a lone figure looking out on the landscape, his perspective is wide and abstract. Kazem shows us what his subject sees, giving his works a more personal viewpoint.
Cristiana de Marchi
For Cristiana de Marchi, time is the great eraser, wiping memories of place. Delicate hand-embroidered work Mapping Gaps attracts the eye. The 11 panels depict Beirut neighbourhoods that have personal significance to the artist, who has split her time living in Beirut and Dubai.
“The gaps are the essence of the work. It references gaps in memory that happen when one is obliged to be away from a place that used to be familiar and finds that memories that used to be clear in your mind are fading,” artist says. “There is a frustration there, but you also feel the urge to preserve as much as you can while you still have the memory.”
Awaiting Weightlessness by Mays Albaik features aluminium video sculptures that are anthropomorphic, with human feet modelled after the artist’s own. Interlinked video essays play across three screens, each one operating on different tempos: a second, a minute, an hour.
Taus Makhacheva practices critically examine what happens when different cultures and traditions come into contact. Produced by artist with Mineral Weather, Moscow’s studio, the work shows how traditional jewellery can structure your psychological, cultural and emotional body. The visitor is encouraged to try on the pieces while an accompanying video explains how they might lead to an increased sensorial experience. As “body-orientated artefacts” they function as “an extrasensory toolkit” which implies a range of heightened emotional abilities: increased levels of empathy, non-haptic communication skills, more awareness of one’s physical and geographical environment, a primordial sense of direction, an individual sense of collective memory.
Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021 is on view until March 27.
For more information, please visit louvreabudhabi.ae