Vasif Kortun







Second Time Around
‘Second Time Around’ featured three Emirati artists: Reem Al Ghaith, Abdullah Al Saadi and Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum who presented individual concepts set in same-size spaces that are actually islands on their own.

The title referred to the UAE’s debut appearance at the biennial in 2009. A newcomer to the La Biennale di Venezia, the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates (UAE) found itself in a position of answering extensive and curious demands, which it addressed with a humorous self-criticality. The second Pavilion was, in turn, a sign of slowly coming of age. Purposefully modest, Second Time Around referred to the barebones of the exhibition. The attitude adopted in choosing the title was also echoed in the approach to the exhibition, where each artist’s work was presented in a dedicated setting.

The exhibition was developed and presented under the leadership of its Commissioner, Dr. Lamees Hamdan and Curator Vasıf Kortun, an internationally respected writer and Director of Research and Programs, SALT, Istanbul.

Kortun elaborated, “No longer contextualized in what have become the absolute clichés of the international reception of the UAE, the National Pavilion UAE for 2011 does not aim to treat the exhibition as curatorial conceit; but rather chooses to realize the theoretical foundation in the immanence of the works in the exhibition. The Pavilion is not curated around concepts, but around artistic positions, as if three independent projects form a coherent exhibition structure pivoting around the works of the artists, Reem Al Ghaith, Abdullah Al Saadi and Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum.”

The Artists
‘Second Time Around’ presented the work of three artists: One an incorrigible artist who does not care one way or another if he is in any exhibition as long as he is able to work in his own precise way (Abdullah Al Saadi), the second a very young artist whose installation practice speaks to the UAE in the most novel way probable (Reem Al Ghaith), and third an artist who has assimilated, and deconstructed the transformation of her environs (Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum). The Emirati artists selected by Kortun represented the UAE through displays of an installation, mixed-media sculpture, and photography.

The curator selected Superpool to help him realize the exhibit presentation. Together, they created three independent yet equally sized exhibition “islands” which emphasize the unique practice of each artist without detracting from the common themes that underlie each of their works. Superpool is a multidisciplinary design firm based in Istanbul. Headed by Selva Gurdogan and Gregers Tang Thomsen, they met at Rem Koolhaas‟ studio Office for Metropolitan Architecture – OMA – in 2003, where they worked until establishing Superpool in 2006.