Edited by: Maya Allison and Cristiana de Marchi.
Texts by: Salwa Mikdadi, Maya Allison, Nada Shabout, Venetia Porter, Fumio Nanjo, Adel Khozam, Vivek Vilasini, Munira Al Sayegh, Cristiana de Marchi.
Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim (born 1962) is an Emirati artist and one of the pioneer "five" conceptual artists from the United Arab Emirates including Hassan Sharif, Abdullah Al Saadi, Hussain Sharif and Mohammed Kazem. This collection of essays, together with over 30 artworks and installation views by Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim contributes to the historical and theoretical discourse on art from the Emirates. It is a welcomed addition to an area of study that has long remained under-researched.
The seminal essays dedicated to the celebration of the long career of Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim undertake an analysis of his work and the context for his art practice over a period of four decades. The first part of the book provides an in-depth study of Ibrahim’s practice within the context of the UAE’s emerging art scene.The second part of the book provides detailed studies of Ibrahim’s relationship to artists, poets, writers, and various art groups and institutions in the UAE.
What comes to the forefront through these essays is that the cycle of life is central to the artistic expression of Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, as he draws inspiration from the recurring rhythms of nature. Co-Published with National Pavilion UAE on the occasion of Venice Biennale 2022.
Co-published by Kaph Books x National Pavilion UAE.
About the Authors
Maya Allison is founding Executive Director of The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery and Chief Curator at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), a degree-granting research university in the liberal arts tradition. NYUAD shapes its scholarly and creative endeavors through an intercultural and multidisciplinary lens. The university has a deep commitment to support the work of UAE artists, and will launch an MFA program next year. Here, The NYUAD Art Gallery connects disciplines and integrates global and local dialogues in its exhibitions both in the main gallery, and the Project Space, as well as supporting emerging artists with the annual Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.
Allison’s curatorial specializations intersect two areas: artistic communities, and installation art. Her most recent project, Speculative Landscapes (NYUAD Art Gallery, 2019) gathered four rising UAE-based artists who work in immersive, experimental installation. Her curatorial projects that included book-length publications include Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes (Curator, JRP Ringier/NYUAD Art Gallery, 2015), Diana Al-Hadid: Phantom Limb (Curator, Skira / NYUAD Art Gallery, 2016), But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008 (Lead Curator, NYUAD Art Gallery, 2017), and Zimoun (Curator, NYUAD Art Gallery, 2019).
Outside the university, she has guest-curated a number of projects in the UAE, including Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years (Lead Curator, with book publication, Cultural Foundation Abu Dhabi, 2018), a 30-year survey of 18 UAE artists.
Cristiana de Marchi
Cristiana de Marchi is an artist, curator and poet, based in Dubai and Beirut, who has a long record of work with and writing on the UAE art community. De Marchi has been the in-house curator at The Flying House (2008-2012), a collective of UAE pioneering visual artists, gathering around the leading figure Hassan Sharif. Her curatorial projects in the UAE include: Rearranging the Riddle (Maraya Art Centre, 2020), the first institutional solo show by Emirati artist Shaikha Al Mazrou, accompanied by the first monographic publication on Al Mazrou’s artistic practice, also edited by de Marchi; Beyond. Emerging Artists (Abu Dhabi Art, 2017); Homage without an homage (Art Dubai, 2017); Is Old Gold? (Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, Dubai, 2017); A Public Privacy (Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, 2015), the inaugural iteration of “UAE Unlimited”, an exhibition platform under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, to promote emerging Emirati and GCC based artists. MinD/Body (Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, Dubai and NYU Abu Dhabi, 2013), a historical show focusing on performance and the use of body in the Gulf Countries. Both these shows were accompanied by book-length publications edited by de Marchi. Press Conference (1×1 Contemporary, Dubai, 2009), the first mid-career solo exhibition dedicated to the late Hassan Sharif; and Re-Source (Elementa Gallery, Dubai, 2009), an exhibition entirely focusing on young, emerging Emirati artists.
De Marchi’s writing regularly focuses on Emirati artists and art scene, often offering a critical and yet poetical view into their practice. In 2016, Sharjah Art Foundation published Embodying, de Marchi’s collection of poems in response to Hassan Sharif’s 1980s performances.
Salwa Mikdadi specializes in the history of modern and contemporary art of the Arab world. Prior to joining the NYUAD, Mikdadi worked at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority where she established the professional development program for museum professionals including a customized executive program (2012 - 2014) and was a lecturer at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in the postgraduate program - History of Art and Museum Studies (2010-May 2014). Mikdadi was the Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Program at the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi (2009-2012).
She wrote the reference guide on the history of the twentieth-century art of West Asia, North Africa and Egypt for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline web pages and is the editor and co-editors of several publications on the subject. She conducted research in Jordan, the West Bank, UAE, Syria, and Lebanon on the governance and management of museums and art institutions. Mikdadi curated several exhibitions including the first Palestinian collateral exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 2009. She was the co-founder and director of the Cultural & Visual Arts Resource/ICWA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the study and exhibit of the art of the Arab world in the United States (1988-2006). Mikdadi is a founding board member of the Association of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey.
Dr Nada Shabout
Nada Shabout is a professor of art history and coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, U.S. She is the founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey. Shabout is the Project Advisor for the Saudi National Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. She is the author of Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics, University of Florida Press, 2007; co-editor with Salwa Mikdadi of New Vision: Arab Art in the 21st Century, Thames & Hudson, 2009; and co-editor with Anneka Lenssen and Sarah Rogers of Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018.
She is the curator of Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art, Interventions: A dialogue between the Modern and the Contemporary, 2010; co-curator of Modernism and Iraq, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 2009, and curator of the traveling exhibition, Dafatir: Contemporary Iraqi Book Art, 2005-2009. Her awards include Writers Grant, Andy Warhol Foundation 2018; The Presidential Excellency Award, UNT 2018; The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq fellow 2006, 2007; MIT visiting Assistant Professor, spring 2008, and Fulbright Senior Scholar Program, 2008 Lecture/Research fellowship to Jordan.
Venetia Porter is a curator of Islamic and Contemporary Middle East art at the British Museum where she has been since 1989. She has a BA in Arabic and Persian and an MPhil in Islamic Art from the University of Oxford. Her PhD from the University of Durham is on the history and architecture of Medieval Yemen.
Fumio Nanjo is a curator and art historian. Since 2006 he has been the director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. A graduate of Keio University, Nanjo was previously Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Nagoya (1986–1990) and served as commissioner of the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1997).
He has curated many art exhibitions and directed many art program, including the Taipei Biennale (1998); the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1999); the Yokohama Triennale (2001), the Singapore Biennale (2006, 2008) and the inaugural Honolulu Biennial (2017). In 2018 he curated the exhibition Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of Its Transformations at the Mori Art Museum.
Nanjo also contributed to exhibitions catalogues, art journals and magazines, and is the author of From Art to the City (1997) and Asian Contemporary Art Report: China, India, Middle East and Japan (2010).
Adel Khozam is an Emirati poet and a weekly columnist in Al Ittihad Newspaper. He has worked in the UAE press since the 1980s.
Khozam has published around 14 Books in poetry collections and 2 novels, his poems have been translated into several languages. His last novel which was entitled, “Life through the Third Eye”, was translated into English and was well received in the United States. It won the Golden Seal for featured books in literature and was nominated for an Eric Hoffer Award for Independent Publication in America.
Khozam composed several melodies and songs for theater and television in the UAE and won several times the best music award from Shariah Festival of Child Theater. He works in Dubai TV channels at Dubai Media Incorporated
Born in 1964, in Trishur, Kerala, Vivek Vilasini trained as a Marine Radio Officer at the All India Marine College in Kochi, and then obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Kerala University in 1987 before turning to art and studying sculpture from traditional Indian craftspeople.
In his work Vilasini examines our existing social structures, adapting various expressions of cultural identity prevalent in society today to raise questions about the continually changing global scenario that every individual struggles to keep pace with. Vilasini’s large-format photographs evoke delicate ironies that impact existing ideologies, and influence the cultural and social consciousness of the viewer.
Vilasini’s work has been exhibited in several solo shows including several editions of ‘Between One Shore and Several Others’ at Birds Gallery, Trivandrum, Arushi Arts, New Delhi, Sumukha Gallery, Bangalore, and the Visual Arts Gallery, New Delhi, in 2007-08; and at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Lalit Kala Academy, Kochi, in 2001. The most recent group shows in which his work has been featured include ‘Beyond the Form’ presented by Bajaj Capital Art House at the Visual Art Gallery, New Delhi, and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 2009; ‘In Focus: Contemporary Indian Photography’ at Crimson - The Art Resource, Bangalore, in 2009; ‘Re-Claim/ Re-Cite/ Re-Cycle’ presented by Latitude 28 at Travancore Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2009; ‘Metamorphosis: Change and Continuity in Indian Contemporary Art’ at PAC Gallery, Phyllis Weston-Annie Bolling Gallery and the Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati, in 2009; ‘Bapu’ at Saffronart, Mumbai, in 2009; and ‘Who Knew Mr. Gandhi?’ at Aicon Gallery, London, in 2008. The artist lives and works in Bangalore.
Munira Al Sayegh
Munira Al Sayegh is an independent curator and cultural instigator based in the United Arab Emirates. She is the founder of Dirwaza Curatorial lab, an Abu Dhabi-based creative incubator and projects partner.
Al Sayegh is a published author and prominent voice in the region on the importance of non-institutional thinking to build regional art movements from the bottom-up.
In 2012, she joined NYU Abu Dhabi’s FIND project (2012) and currently sits on the advisory board for the university’s art gallery.
From 2014 she has joined and pioneered curatorial initiatives across Art Dubai where she curated the Residents section (2019) and started the Now series, looking at non-government funded creative platforms in the region. She recently served as lead tutor and curator for Campus Art Dubai.
Her curatorial solo debut was Bayn: the in-between (2017), at the third edition of UAE Unlimited. That same year, she curated and developed the program series for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence. Later, she curated the Talks Program in Abu Dhabi Art. In 2020, Al Sayegh premiered The Cup and The Saucer commissioned by Warehouse421 (Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Foundation), where she has also led in-house public programs.
Most recently she has advised sculptural commissions for the Expo Dubai 2020 Public Art Programme.
Al Sayegh is part of the UAE Ministry of Culture Visual Arts Committee as well as Dubai Collection’s Steering and Curatorial Committee.