Round-table discussion: Imagining A New Arts Landscape

As part of the Youth Takeover, Youth Assembly member Sara Bin Safwan invited guest Munira Al Sayegh to moderate a round-table discussion.

Sara Bin Safwan: “Through this round table discussion, local creatives will discuss and critique the current arts landscape of the UAE. As current practicing creative professionals in the UAE, we will comb through the intricacies of working in the creative field. The aim of this discussion is to openly speak without restriction or fear of the frustrations of working as a creative in the UAE. We will also discuss the pressures of being an artist in the digital age, which can bring unrealistic expectations of high level of productivity or striving for the perfect aesthetic. We will imagine what a sustainable and thriving arts landscape can look like in the UAE. All points discussed in this session will then help the formulation of the “Ever-growing Manifesto”, a public declaration of the new visions set forth by creatives living in the UAE in hopes to create an artistic society that is taken seriously.”

Sara bin Safwan currently works as Assistant Curator for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, as a member of the curatorial team responsible for defining the vision for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum. She received her BA in Culture, Criticism and Curation from Central Saint Martins in 2015 were she developed a keen interest in post-colonial theory. In 2016, she founded the online art platform, Banat Collective which focuses on discussing intersectionality and feminism within the regional context of MENA through art and writing. The collective released its first collaborative publication in 2018 titled, ‘In The Middle of it All’, a 31-artist collaboration of visual art, writing and poetry.

Munira Al Sayegh (UAE, 1983) holds an undergraduate degree from University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies in History of Art and Archaeology, with a focus on the Middle East. After graduating, Al Sayegh interned with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in the Educational and Developmental departments. Once she moved back to Abu Dhabi, Al Sayegh worked with New York University Abu Dhabi as an assistant producer on the FIND project in 2012. From that she continued on, as co-curator of Art Dubai Projects 2014, assistant curator of Emirati Expressions 2015, and curator of Bayn: the in-between, the third edition of U.A.E Unlimited 2017. Al Sayegh worked on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project as a programmes officer from 2015-2017 and curated Abu Dhabi Art Talks program 2017. Al Sayegh sits on the advisory council board of the NYUAD gallery. She has participated in various panels, lectures and has published articles on the contemporary art scene of the region.

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