Discussion and book launch: Portrait of a Nation II and Art of the Emirates II

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Art Jameel, in collaboration with the The Art Jameel Shop, celebrate the launch of two important books documenting the development of the UAE art scene: Art of the Emirates II and Portrait of a Nation II, the book companion to the recently closed ‘Portrait of A Nation II: Beyond Narratives’ exhibition.

Both publications signal a transition from a field of creative activities to practices codified as art by being exhibited in galleries, museums or projects spaces, written about in newspapers and magazines, and documented as such. But what is lost when we call something “art”? What possibilities are bracketed off by the term, and what does this do to art’s political potential once it is removed from the practice of everyday life? In expanding what can be understood as art, is the art world consuming ideas rather than living them?

Join Maya El Khalil, curator of Abu Dhabi Festival’s ‘Portrait of a Nation II: Beyond Narratives’ exhibition and Melissa Gronlund, editor of Art of the Emirates ll, as they speak alongside Maryam Al Dabbagh and Walid Al Wawi on the question of what is lost in the term “art”.

The discussion continues over refreshments and a special opportunity to browse and purchase signed copies of both landmark books.

Art of the Emirates II, edited by Melissa Gronlund, looks at the production in the UAE since 2016, taking stock of the so-called historical turn (the spate of retrospective exhibitions that appeared in 2017), the shift towards collectives and community projects, and the widening of the UAE art world towards multiple demographics and curatorial thinking. It is structured as a series of round tables, interviews and oral histories, with participants including Zaki Nusseibeh, Sultan Al Qassemi, Antonia Carver, Murtaza Vali, Munira Al Sayegh, Afra Al Dhaheri, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Kevin Jones, Manal Ataya and Nawar Al Qassimi.

Portrait of a Nation II, edited by Roxane Zand, is the book companion to ‘Abu Dhabi Festival’s Portrait of a Nation II: Beyond Narratives’, the ambitious and expansive exhibition that seeks to map and complicate how an art scene develops – and beyond that, how narratives about history are formed. The exhibition looks at artists from multiple generations of the UAE to test the enduring importance of language, home, exile, and community. Artists include Hassan Sharif, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Abdullatif Al Smoudi, Hussein Sharif, Nujoom Al Ghanem, Mohammad Al Mazrouei, Mohammed Kazem, Vikram DivechaFarah Al Qasimi, Nasser Al Zayani, Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian.

Art of the Emirates II and Portrait of a Nation II are available in the Art Jameel Shop and for delivery globally.



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