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Founders of UAE’s Experimental Art Scene to Reunite Online


Founders of UAE’s experimental art scene to reunite online in bilingual event with The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Art historian Dr. Aisha Stoby and artists of the first generations of the UAE’s avant-garde will join the curatorial team of their 2017 exhibition But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008 for a conversation about this community’s art history, past, and present.

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The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery will launch its sixth digital archive, But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008, as part of its TRACE: Archives and Reunions series, on Tuesday, August 25.

To mark this special TRACE event, The NYUAD Art Gallery will host a Zoom gathering in Arabic and English, with live translation. Art historian Dr. Aisha Stoby will lead a conversation with Nujoom Alghanem, Khalid Albudoor, Mohammed Kazem, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Abdullah Al Saadi, Vivek Vilasini, Adel Khozam, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Abdulraheem Sharif and Cristiana de Marchi. They will be joined by the curatorial team of the exhibition: NYUAD Chief Curator, Maya Allison, Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bana Kattan, and Assistant Director of Publications and Education at The NYUAD Art Gallery, Alaa Edris.

In a departure from the Zoom webinar format, audiences will be invited to join in the conversation, in English and Arabic, on screen. Taking place on Tuesday, August 25, at 8pm, Tracing: But We Cannot See Them will explore the history of the UAE’s conceptual and experimental art community, as well as its past and present. To register for the conversation, please click here.

Opened in March 2017, the landmark exhibition and accompanying book was the first survey of its kind, tracing one of the most influential artistic communities in the UAE’s history, with special attention to the prolific but under-the-radar period of the 1990s and early 2000s. Before most of the galleries in Dubai had opened, before the auction houses arrived, and before Saadiyat museums were announced, many of these artists participated in the founding of the Sharjah Emirates Fine Arts Society in 1980, and in the 1990s, exhibited in the new Sharjah Art Museum, and Sharjah Biennial. Working outside traditional institutional or commercial frameworks, this arts community supported and challenged each other, encouraging radical formal and conceptual experimentation. Many of them have gone on to be collected by international museums, and to represent the UAE at the prestigious Venice Biennial.

Tracing: But We Cannot See Them celebrates the launch of the exhibition’s digital archive online. For the first time, the extensive video interviews with these artists will be online, as well as the entire book of research and interviews, in English and Arabic,  as well as the Youth Guide, installation and event views, and more.

Previous digital exhibition archives can be accessed by the public on TRACE: Archives and Reunion’s page.

For more information, please visit


Link to page: TRACE: Archives and Reunions
Exhibition: But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008
Digital launch date: Tuesday, August 25
Tracing: But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008 , Tuesday, August 25 at 8:00pm GST
Free and open to the public

Location: Zoom Meeting

Register here

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