Maya El Khalil and Afra Al Suwaidi.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
It is the first time Abu Dhabi Art is exhibiting abroad where it is showing the works of the three emerging artists, all from the UAE, in Beyond: Emerging Artists presentation at Cromwell Place, London (June 2 – 13).
Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the artists whose works are being showcased are Hind Mezaina, Afra Al Dhaheri and Afra Al Suwaidi, and the curator is Maya El Khalil.
Mezaina was born in and works in Dubai. Her work delves into themes of collective memory, the notion of heritage, and the representation of Dubai and the UAE in the media. It is a continuous development of what she describes as a ‘visual archaeology’ through research, observation, collecting and preserving memories.
Working primarily in photography, and most recently in video and collage, her projects have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the UAE and abroad, including ‘Made in Tashkeel’ (Tashkeel, 2018); Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj (2017) and ‘Al Haraka Baraka: In Movement There Is Blessing’ (Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, 2016).
She has also worked on various commissioned projects, including ‘The Wedding Project’ (Art Dubai, 2016); ‘In the Meanwhile’ (Global Art Forum, Art Dubai, 2014); ‘Cassette Project’ (Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp, Dubai, 2013) and ‘Mass Medium: Emirati TV on Home Video’, (Global Art Forum, Art Dubai, 2012).
Mezaina curates film screenings for Louvre Abu Dhabi, is the Founder of The Culturist blog and the Co-Founder of Tea with Culture podcast. She participated in the 2016 Autumn Programme residency at Delfina Foundation, supported by Maraya Art Centre.
She is a graduate of the 2015–2016 Salama Emerging Artist Fellowship (SEAF) and was selected for A.i.R Dubai 2015, a partnership between Delfina Foundation, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Tashkeel. Al Dhaheri was born in Abu Dhabi and works there. Her work is rooted in her experiences growing up in Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE — a place of recent and rapid change. Working across various mediums including mixed media, sculpture, drawing, painting, installation, photography and printmaking, she draws out notions of time and adaptation, rigour and fragility.
She obtained her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design, USA, and completed residencies with The Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship, in partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014 and Porthmeor Studios, St. Ives, Cornwall, UK (2019). Her first solo exhibition ‘Inevitable Ephemera’ was hosted by T+H Gallery in Boston, USA in 2016. Selected group exhibitions include ‘Avoid Bad Dreams’, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2019); ‘Barcelona to Abu Dhabi’, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2018) and ‘Emirati Expressions’, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2011 and 2015). She works as an Assistant Professor in Visual Arts at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi.
Al Suwaidi was born in Abu Dhabi and works there. She has specialised in fine arts and received a BA Degree from Zayed University and has participated in a number of shows locally and internationally. In 2015, she participated in an exhibition at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center in New York and at Lessedra World Art Print Annual Exhibition in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2017, she took part in Imago Mundi in Treviso, Italy. Locally, she has presented her work in the French Alliance Art Exhibition in Abu Dhabi and in Guggenheim Abu Dhabi: Do Art Do It Now, Manarat Al Saadiyat, in 2017.
Most recently, she participated in the 35th Annual Exhibition of the Emirates Fine Arts Society in Sharjah, UAE. Al Suwaidi is currently participating in the Cultural Foundation Art Residency 2020. El Khalil was born in Beirut, currently lives in Oxford, UK. She is an independent curator, who for the last decade, has been working locally, regionally and internationally with artists, collectors and institutions to develop the identity and ideas that have defined the contemporary art scene in Saudi Arabia.
From its inception in 2009 until 2016, she was the Founding Director of Athr, a leading contemporary art gallery based in Jeddah. She is the curator of the 7th Edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts. El Khalil holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the American University of Beirut. She is currently enrolled in an MA Program in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths University.
Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art said that “our exhibition at Cromwell Place offers us a vital connection with our network in the UK and kickstarts a year of adaptation and growth for us as a fair.” Cromwell Place is a first-of-its-kind exhibition and working space for art professionals. Created as a solution to changing industry demands, the membership organisation offers flexible services including exhibition space, viewing rooms, art storage, handling, working facilities, events and a Club Room.
Set in the heart of London’s museum district, its terrace of Victorian townhouses is home to over fifty of some of the world’s leading galleries, institutions, dealers and advisors. Abu Dhabi Art expands beyond the notion of a traditional art fair, in placing strong emphasis on a diverse public engagement programme, including art installations and exhibitions, talks and events that take place in different locations throughout the year. The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi manages the emirate’s tourism sector and its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and developing museums, including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
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