Shifting Earth Symposium

Shifting Earth Symposium will examine the ongoing research behind Jameel Arts Centre’s Artist’s Garden commission; Desert is a Forest by artist Sunoj D and anthropologist Namrata Neog. This project began with the prompt of how to ‘think like a forest,’ attempting to think through the UAE landscape, examining what kinds of negotiations, relationships, and hierarchies emerge and submerge if we imagine the desert to be a forest. This two-day symposium will explore the biodiversity and ethnobotany of the UAE landscape, the broader region of the Arabian Peninsula, vis-a-vis the global biodiversity crisis. 

Together, we will consider human and non-human relations in native ecosystems and how these entanglements could inform our understanding of the global biodiversity crisis through a botanical lens. From the Arabian Desert to broader international ecological and biological processesthe symposium will look at environmental concerns through different disciplines, challenging the anthropocentric understanding of our natural landscape while also fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue amongst botanists, writers, artists, curators, anthropologists, and historians. The speakers will address the role of art in ecology, climate change, conservation, and sustainability as an existential urgency of our times. 

Join us on March 26 and 27, 2022, and have the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.

You may register for one or both days  HERE 

You can download the full programme HERE.


Day 1: Saturday, March 26, 2022 

2:00 pm – Welcoming Remarks by Dawn Ross, Head of Collections, Art Jameel

Panel: What have Plants Done for us?

Introduction by Nadine El Khoury, Assistant Curator, Art Jameel

2:10 – 2:50 pm – Desert is a Forest  Sunoj D and Namrata Neog, Lakshmi Nivas Artist Collective, Paradur, Kerala

2:55 – 3:35 pm – Preserving Culture through Plants Shahina Ghazanfar, Botanist and Author, Cambridge, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London

Discussion and Q&A with Sunoj D, Namrata Neog and Shahina Ghazanfar moderated by Nadine El Khoury, Assistant Curator, Art Jameel

Coffee Break – 20 mins

Panel: Living on Dry Land?

Introduction by Dawn Ross, Head of Collections, Art Jameel

4:30 – 5:40 pm – Green Roots Charles Al Hayek, History Professor and Cultural Heritage Consultant, Beirut, Lebanon

Discussion and Q&A moderated by Nora Razian, Head of Exhibitions, Art Jameel

5:45 – 6:45 pm – There is an Edible Gold Moza Almatrooshi, Conceptual artist, Chef and Writer, Dubai, UAE with Rahul Gudipudi, Exhibitions Curator, Art Jameel

6:45 pm End


Day 2: Sunday, March 27, 2022

2:00 pm – Welcoming Remarks by Dawn Ross, Head of Collections, Art Jameel.

Panel: The Deep Memory of the Earth

Introduction by Dawn Ross, Head of Collections, Art Jameel.

2:10 – 2:50 pm – The Deep-Forest Perspective of the Waorani Jonathon Miller Weisberger, Ethnobotanist, Costa Rica and Quito, Ecuador

2:55 – 3:35 pm – Barruntaremos (‘Inklings’) Asunción Molinos Gordo, Artist and Researcher, Madrid, Spain. Soledad Gutierrez, Curator and Executive Producer of st_age, Madrid, Spain

Discussion and Q&A moderated by Nadia Christidi, Researcher, Writer and Art Practitioner, Venice, Italy.

Coffee Break – 20 mins

Panel: Food, Colour and the Multisensory

Introduction by Nadine El Khoury, Assistant Curator, Art Jameel

4:30 – 5:10 pm – Tasting the Emirati Colours: Landscape and Place-making through National Food  Dr. Eloisa Martin, Associate Professor of Sociology, United Arab Emirates University and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (on leave), Al Ain, UAE

5:15 – 5:55 pm Shamsa Nahla Taaba, Artist, Dubai, UAE with Lucas Morin, Exhibition Curator, Art Jameel

6:00 – 6:30 pm – Discussion and Q&A with Dr Eloisa Martin, Nahla Tabbaa and Lucas Morin, moderated by Azim Al Ghussein.

6:40 – 7:00 pm – Book launch and tasting session with Nahla Tabbaa

7:00 pm End