January 24 | Knowledge Transmission: from the Atelier to Remote Teaching – dominions of Ideas and Inheritance
7pm, DUCTAC's Art Forum
What roles have formal and informal education played in the UAE? Is there a shared cross-generational pedagogy despite apparent divergence? What necessitated the marked departure from the organic structures that propelled the creative spirit of the avant-garde ‘UAE 5’ to today’s more formal institutional approach? What has been lost and what has thrived as a result of this shift?
Cristiana de Marchi curates and moderates a panel including ‘Is Old Gold?’ artist Fatima Albudoor, academic Elizabeth Stoney, filmmaker and writer Nujoom Al Ghanem and artist, cultural producer and curator Roberto Lopardo for a discussion on the history of UAE artistic “educations” – both formal and informal.
Moderated by Cristiana de Marchi
January 31 | Imitation, plagiarism and tribute: recurrences in visual arts
7pm, DUCTAC's Art Forum
How has the apparatus of the colossal international art world infiltrated, shaped and informed art practices in the UAE? Can a local-centric approach counter the press of the international? How does the conflation of these two systems, the local and the international, the emergent and the established, engender a spectrum of issues from isolation to imitation? Can self-sustainability be forged in these conditions? Is a kind of plagiarism via generational recurrence and resonance inevitable?
Cristiana de Marchi moderates ‘Is Old Gold?’ artists Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Hind Mezaina, academic, curator and cultural producer Dr. Nina Heydemann and anthropologist Beth Derderian as they investigate the relationship between international and local systems and the risks of becoming derivative in attempts to forge both an individual and a shared artistic identity.
Moderated by Cristiana de Marchi
February 7 | The validation system: self-sustainability or foreign acknowledgement?
7pm, DUCTAC's Art Forum
As local artists forge internationally renowned careers, what balance can be struck between the local and the global? What defines success across different audiences and for the self? Can a career be made locally or is engagement with international narratives always necessary? What are the different tools of promotion and recognition available to local artists and how should they be combined?
Cristiana de Marchi moderates a discussion between gallerist Isabelle van den Eynde, director of Art Dubai and former Editor of Canvas magazine Myrna Ayad, internationally published art expert, public speaker, and advisor to diverse arts initiatives Mahnaz Fancy and ‘Is Old Gold?’ artist Alia Lootah as they consider the roles played by art fairs, institutional shows, biennials and artist residencies in the composition of a successful yet self-actuated career.
Moderated by Cristiana de Marchi
February 14 | The valley in between: generational disconnections, divergent agendas or a possible continuity?
7pm, DUCTAC's Art Forum
As the cultural and social context of the UAE shifts perpetually, what are the threads of continuity that could make up a shared generational connection? Are there any common agendas between these divergent generations? As the infrastructure shifts, is there any possible continuity between the UAE avant-garde and the youngest generation of contemporary practitioners? What is inherited, shared and propagated? What is lost?
Cristiana di Marchi moderates ‘Is Old Gold?’ artist Shaikha Al Mazrou, writer Kevin Jones, curator of NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery Maya Allison and curator and writer Muhanad Ali (DUCTAC) in a discussion on generational disconnection and possibly sustained continuities.
Moderated by Cristiana de Marchi
Through perpetual experimentation, Shaikha Al Mazrou brings together motifs from different artistic movements to explore ideas of formality. Tensions between modes are made manifest in the play of form and volume, surface and void, material and concept.
Her sculptural explorations are simultaneously light-hearted and serious and her artistic vocabulary combines elements from her studies to realise ironic, critical works that reference significant artistic movements. Her works echo with the history of sculpture, abstraction and contemporary art, yet they transcend genre and defy easy categorisation.
Al Mazrou was born in the UAE and received her Master’s in 2014 from the Chelsea College of Fine Art, University of the Arts London. She previously studied at the College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah where she is currently a sculpture lecturer. She has taken part in residency programmes at the Delfina Foundation in London in collaboration with Tashkeel and in Bastakiya, Dubai with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
In 2014, Al Mazrou was one of five international artists commissioned by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture to produce a public artwork at the Jalila Cultural Centre for Children in Dubai as part of ‘Make Art Possible’. She is represented by Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai and lives and works in the UAE.
As an artist and traveller, Fatima Albudoor uses printmaking to combine writing, drawing and photography. This layered aesthetic is as much a combination of mediums as it is a palimpsest of thoughts, feelings and memories. Her faded images appear ghost-like, hovering just beyond the tangible here and now, as if emissaries from past experiences and past worlds. She becomes a cartographer mapping the passage of time and the flight of feelings. Poignant yet strident, her speculative documents of impermanence echo with the past. Her works consider the composition of life and are infused with caught transient traces of shifting social ephemera.
Born in Dubai, Fatima is a UAE national who has lived and studied in Dubai, Boston, London and Dublin. She received a BFA in Studio Art from Northeastern University in Boston, USA. Fatima’s work has been exhibited in Art Dubai and DIFC Art Nights, as well as in exhibitions in Abu Dhabi, Boston and Venice. She is a graduate of the Salama Bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellowship (2016) and currently lives and works in Dubai, where her studio is based.
Muhanad Ali is a cultural producer, writer and curator. He was Arts Centre Manager & Curator, DUCTAC, Dubai. A Cultural Leadership International Programme grantee (2010), Muhanad earned his BA in English Literature at Damascus University (2002). Previously, Muhanad was a Project Manager at Art Dubai and went on to co-manage and curate Dubai Culture’s SIKKA Art Fair (2013). He headed the Artistic Production department at Damascus Opera House (2010) where he co-produced over 15 performances and festivals. As regular contributor to many Arabic newspapers, Muhanad mainly focuses on the changes in the GCC arts scene in the light of the rise and fall of Middle Eastern cities. He founded the East/East-East platform (2015) which comprises a series of exhibitions focusing on dialogues between artists from the geographical East.
Maya Allison is founding Director of the Art Gallery and Chief Curator at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her background is also in academic museums, including at the RISD Museum (Rhode Island School of Design) and Curator at the Bell Gallery (Brown University). She was also director of the city-wide, international new media showcase Pixilerations and of the 5 Traverse Gallery, both in Providence, RI, USA. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, a BA in art history from Reed College, and was awarded a research fellowship on curatorial practices at Brown University’s Center for Public Humanities.
Myrna Ayad is currently Fair Director at Art Dubai. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1977, Myrna is an independent arts writer, editor and consultant who has been based in the UAE for over thirty years. She has written prolifically for publications including The New York Times, The Art Newspaper, Artsy, Artforum, Artnet and The National among others, and published books on major collections and art movements in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Previously Editor of Canvas, a leading magazine for art and culture from the Middle East and Arab world where she worked for eight years (2007–2015), Myrna is recognised as one of the Middle East’s leading voices and cultural commentators.
Beth Derderian is a cultural anthropologist currently based in the UAE. She previously worked at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and holds an MA in Near Eastern and Museum Studies from NYU. Beth is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. She received a Fulbright to conduct her dissertation research in the 2015–2016 academic year and during 2016–2017, she is a visiting doctoral scholar at the Al Qasimi Foundation of Ras al Khaimah. Her research focuses on the development of arts and cultural initiatives and contemporary arts practice in the UAE. She is researcher-in-residence at Tashkeel, and has written for Canvas and Ibraaz.
After establishing B21 Gallery in 2006, one of the first contemporary art spaces in the United Arab Emirates, Isabelle van den Eynde launched her eponymous space in Dubai's Alserkal Avenue in 2010, representing a pluralistic roster of artists from the Middle East and North Africa.
Through exhibitions, book publishing and international fair participation, the gallery prides itself on closely collaborating with its artists to create insightful and often provocative presentations that challenge the conventions and ideologies related to the notion of art display and exhibition making.
Raised in Paris, Abu Dhabi and New York, Mahnaz Fancy has dedicated her career in the arts to exploring how increasing transnational contact in the 21st century is changing cultures around the world. After pursuing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, she returned to New York to build entrepreneurial arts initiatives aimed at educating growing public audiences for contemporary arts and culture from the MENASA region. Engaging governments, corporations and civil society through strategic partnerships and innovative communications platforms, she has successfully launched international arts exchange and arts education programs that have accelerated the development of these emerging regional arts sectors and impacted cross-cultural understanding. In addition to organising such programs, as well as exhibitions, festivals and conferences, Mahnaz is an internationally published art expert, public speaker, and advisor to diverse arts initiatives.
Dr. Nina Heydemann currently works as the Senior Manager – Visual Arts for Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF). She received her PhD degree in Art History at the University of Leipzig and the University College London (UCL). Her dissertation “The Art of Quotation. Forms and Themes of the Art Quote, 1990-2010”, examines inter-pictorial referentiality of contemporary artworks. Previously, she worked as an exhibition manager for the Deutsche Bank Collection in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Nina Heydemann studied Art History and Cultural Sciences at the University of Leipzig, the Università Ca’ Foscarì Venice and Venice International University. She was awarded scholarships from the University of Leipzig, the German Academic Exchange Service and the German National Merit Foundation.
Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim (1962) was born in Khorfakkan, UAE. He carries a degree in Psychology from Al Ain University, and completed a residency at Le Consortium Art Centre in Dijon, France.
His work has been exhibited internationally, including the Sharjah Biennial in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2007, the 2009 Venice Biennale, the Kunstmuseum Bonn in 2005, the Sharjah Art Museum in 2005 and 1996, the Dhaka Biennial in 2002 and 1993, Germany’s Ludwig Forum in 2002, the 2000 Havana Biennial, the 1998 Cairo Biennial, the Institut du Monde Arabe in 1998, Holland’s Sittard Art Center in 1995, and Moscow’s 1990 “Exhibition of the Emirates Fine Art Society in the Soviet Union.”
Kevin Jones is an independent arts writer based in Dubai. New York-born and Paris-bred, he has lived in the Middle East for the past 10 years and is currently the UAE Desk Editor for ArtAsiaPacific. He contributes regularly to The Art Newspaper, Artforum.com, ArtReviewAsia and FlashArt International. Regionally, his writing has been published in Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, Bidoun, Canvas, Brownbook and The National. He holds a BA with a double major English Literature/Journalism from Northwestern University. His MA is in Linguistics/Semiotics from La Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III). His blog, unfinishedperfect.com, devoted to fostering a critical voice on art in the Gulf region, is perpetually launching.
Artist, photographer, teacher and curator, Roberto Lopardo's work is concerned with the situation of the self within varied contexts – both physical and social.
He carries Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Whitman College, a Masters in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Sheridan Teaching Certificate from Brown University. Previously an instructor of photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Arizona in Tucson, USA, he has lived in the Middle East for twelve years holding the professional titles of Professor of Art and Chairman of Visual Communications (2004–2011), Curatorial Director at Cuadro Gallery (2011–2017), and Artist (2004–).
Roberto was awarded a New York University Fellowship for his latest series 'Mappings'. The series has been commissioned, exhibited and collected by prestigious institutions throughout the world including the Jameel Foundation, Le Méridien Group, United States Art in Embassies Program, Yarat Foundation in Baku, Tenri Institute in New York, Video-Appart in Paris, Duncan Collection, New York University, Abu Dhabi, Emerson Gallery in Berlin, RISD Museum and, most recently, he was commissioned by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation.
Cristiana de Marchi was born in Italy and currently lives and works between Dubai and Beirut. An artist, curator and poet, she was educated at the University of Torino and University of Roma from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours (1994) and a Masters Degree with first class honours (1999). In 2012 she completed the Course in Curatorial Practice, organised by the California College of the Arts, U.S.A. in partnership with Emirates Foundation, Abu Dhabi.
She has cooperated with several cultural institutions (Cultural Service of the Italian Embassy in Lebanon; Archaeological Museum of Beirut; Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research, Archaeology Museum of Sharjah; Tashkeel, Dubai) and given lectures and seminars at both Italian and Lebanese universities and Emirati institutions.
An artist, curator and writer, she conducts a personal artistic and literary research besides publishing articles and essays in catalogues and magazines devoted to contemporary art.
Among her recent curatorial projects, 'The Poetics of Absence' (1x1 gallery, Dubai, 2017), featuring works by 13 local, regional and international artists revolving around issues of memory and belonging disappearance; “A Public Privacy” (Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, 2015), featuring selected emerging artists living in the Gulf Countries, and “MinD/Body” (DUCTAC, Dubai and NYU Abu Dhabi, 2013), a historical show focusing on performance and the use of body in the GCC.
Hind Mezaina's work addresses her relationship and reaction to the accelerated changes Dubai is undergoing. Memory, change, the notion of heritage and the representation of Dubai in the media (and how it corresponds to the people living in the city) are some of the key themes that she is interested in. Through her work, she aims to communicate anxieties to the changes, and to also comment, preserve memories, and create a ‘visual archaeology’ of the city. Furthermore, cultural memory is explored specifically in reference to film and TV shows she watched growing up.
Working primarily in photography, and most recently in video, her work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the UAE and abroad. Her blog theculturist.com and Tea with Culture podcast she co-founded covers cultural news, events, reviews in the UAE and beyond. Her writing has been featured in local publications including The National, Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia and Vision.
She recently graduated from the 2015-2016 edition of Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Emerging Artists Fellowship in partnership with Rhode Island School of Design.
Dr Elisabeth Stoney lectures in Art History and Curatorial Studies at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi.
Dr Stoney held university posts lecturing in cinema studies at Monash University and La Trobe University (both in Melbourne, Australia). From 2007–2011 she led the cultural studies program at the College of Fine Art and Design, University of Sharjah.
She has held numerous positions with museums, arts organisations and enterprises in Europe, Australia and the Gulf. She is co-editor of the first photographic study of the cultural heritage of Kosovo, 'Historical and Cultural Monuments–Peja' (2006) and publishes internationally on photography, film and art history.