March 5 – April 1
It feels good that a year after the Rem Koolhaas designed space Concrete opened, it will be taken over by artists living and working in the UAE. The exhibition Ishara: Signs, Symbols and Shared Languages, which opens on March 5, is the result of a partnership between Alserkal Avenue and the Abu Dhabi-based satellite platform UAE Unlimited. Since 2015 UAE Unlimited, an initiative supported by the dynamic young patron H. H. Sheikh bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, has orchestrated an annual show of newly commissioned works on a shared theme, previously at Maraya Arts Centre in Sharjah and Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi.
Mentorship has always been an essential component in the creation of such exhibitions, both for the chosen artists and curators. In this instance, curator Karim Sultan has had Laura Metzler as a senior advisor on the exhibition, and the inspiring trio of Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian are both loaning works and conducting regular reading sessions with the 10 selected emerging artists: Amna Al Dabbagh, Cheb Moha, Chndy, Dina Khorchid, Farah Al Qasimi, Flounder Lee, Nasir Nasrallah, Saba Qizilbash, Salem Al Mansoori and Shaikha Al Ketbi.
The artists have been selected based on their prior practice, in particular their interest in deciphering different forms of language, communication and ways to enhance interaction and comprehension.
Some have exhibited widely in the UAE and abroad, others have participated in schemes such as the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship or the Design Road Professional Dubai programme. Some are professors at UAE universities, others have a sideline in commercial photography. Many incorporate humour into their work. All respond to the environment of the UAE and how the fact that it is a melting pot of nationalities, many in transit, affects the day-to-day activities of the people who call it home.
Featured image: Exhibition view of Ishara – Signs, Symbols and Shared Languages in Concrete, March 2018. Image credit Musthafa Aboobacker, courtesy UAE Unlimited and Alserkal Programming.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, page 37.