Sneak Peek: Abu Dhabi Art

BY Katrina Kufer / Jul 27 2017 / 13:18 PM

Hints of what’s to come for the ninth edition of Abu Dhabi Art are revealed by the fair insiders in this multi-segment feature

Sneak Peek: Abu Dhabi Art
Image courtesy ADA
Dyala Nusseibeh

As Abu Dhabi gets ready for the ninth edition of the Abu Dhabi Art (ADA) 8-11, hints of a refreshed programme have emerged following the new directorship of Dyala Nusseibeh. Embracing a selection of local, regional and international galleries alongside talks, workshops and performances, ADA has announced that this year there will be several special curators involved in city-wide events that will occur in the lead up to and throughout the duration of fair.

Beyond, the exhibition section for large-scale sculptures and installations located at the fair and throughout the city, has extended to include Beyond: Artist Commissions. The new off-site initiative will see works by Manal Al Dowayan, Magdi Mostafa and Nasser Al Salem pop up in Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi city as well as Al Ain, under the curatorship of artists Mohammed Kazem and Cristiana de Marchi. Chief curator at NYUAD Maya Allison will be curating the fair’s Gateway section, which draws parallels and connections between the UAE and international artists. Munira Al Sayegh will curate the Talks Programme with a focus on debating and documenting GCC art histories, while Dr Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, will lead the way in the curated Galleries section Focus: Beyond Territory where he intends to introduce seminal cross-generational artists and projects in the region for the first time. Tarek Abou El Fetouh returns to curate the fifth edition of Durub Al Tawaya, which addresses contemporary performance. Meanwhile, Fabrice Bousteau will oversee the second year of the Street Art programme which will see new commissions in urban zones, while Tarek Al Ghoussein’s series of photographs documenting the Saadiyat Cultural District over the last seven years are being used for ADA’s advertising and branding campaigns.

Over the next few weeks, we will hear from these Abu Dhabi Art insiders on what’s coming up, beginning with Dyala Nusseibeh, director of Abu Dhabi Art.

Harper’s Bazaar Art: How would you like to see ADA evolve this year and in the future in relation to previous editions?
Dyala Nusseibeh: I would like to enable strong curatorial content that engages with what is happening on the ground here artistically and contributes to it. Abu Dhabi Art is a powerful vehicle for developing the local art eco-system and supporting local art professionals through providing an international network—we intend to develop this further. Finally in terms of outreach and community engagement, I would like to expand our local audience.

HBA: In what ways has the UAE public changed, adapted and/or evolved in relation to ADA?
DN: Nine years ago Abu Dhabi Art had 10,000 visitors – last year it was well over 20,000. Public interest in the event has increased significantly. We’ve seen higher numbers of school visits, which is important for us as well as an increase in the number of people collecting art, which is key for the local art eco-system.

HBA: What are you bringing to ADA this year?
DN: A new focus on local and regional art histories, new curators such as the phenomenal Maya Allison, Omar Kholeif, Mohammed Kazem, Cristiana de Marchi and Muneera Al Sayegh, who will join long standing curators Tarek Abou El Fetouh and Fabrice Bousteau in creating our artistic programme this year, more developed partnerships with universities and a new collaboration with architects Nilsson Pflugfelder on the spatial design of Abu Dhabi Art, which will all contribute to a different feel and approach this year.

HBA: How do you keep your curatorial inspiration and approach fresh?
DN: I find energy and inspiration by learning from and collaborating with great artists and curators. I also think it key to be experimental and open-ended in initiatives, to enjoy the process of ideas taking form and then changing form over time.

HBA: How is ADA this year in dialogue with global contemporary art trends and developments?
DN: Through our curators and participating galleries, whose networks are global. The interesting question is how Abu Dhabi can best contribute to global conversations about art from our own perspective and whilst ensuring our own narratives are woven in. Abu Dhabi Art is one platform, amongst others in the UAE, for doing so.

HBA: Are there any special insights you can provide us?
DN: You can encounter a first introduction to Abu Dhabi Art in mid-October this year, when we launch our off-site commissions in Al Ain with works by Manal Al Dowayan and Nasser Al Salem being created specifically for the Al Ain Oasis and Jahili Fort. These will be followed by a commissioned work by Magdi Mostafa, revealed at Abu Dhabi Art, which starts this year on 8 November. Mostafa’s work will be created specifically in response to Saadiyat Island. Through these artist commissions we are creating a unique mapping of key local areas of importance and driving awareness about these areas.

Next week, hear from Maya Allison.

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