Tirdad Zolghadr



Lamya Gargash





It’s Not You, It’s Me

“It’s Not You, It’s Me” curated by Tirdad Zolghadr and commissioned by Dr Lamees Hamdan is a playful and provocative name for the country’s first pavilion at the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event.  As a new arrival at the Biennale, the title It’s Not You, It’s Me is unapologetic about documenting the nation; even while the Pavilion as a whole can be seen as an exhibition about exhibition–making, reflecting on the very act of national showcasing at la Biennale di Venezia.

“By and large, art professionals around the world dismiss the notion that a Pavilion can truly represent a nation,” Zolghadr explains. “There still remains much to consider—especially when the nation in question is a place where more efforts are being invested in the development of a global art arena, within a smaller geographic space, and within a shorter time frame, than ever attempted before.”

Built in a large and prominent location in the Arsenale, the Pavilion draws attention to its nature and function as a showcase through a combination of scenographic elements an architectural design by the partnership of Rami Farook and the Belgian architectural collective D’haeseleer & Kimpe & Poelaert.

Physically, the entire Pavilion highlights a “World Fair” theme that incorporates various components:

Familial: work by the featured artist, Lamya Gargash, Emirati photographer and filmmaker. Gargash was selected to exhibit a specially commissioned series of photographs titled Familial. The series plays on the aesthetics of hospitality, the politics of interior design and the disingenuous lure of documentation.

Opening: a documentation of a Dubai performance by the Jackson Pollock Bar.

Nation Builders: a Kiosk featuring conversations with key figures in the cultural panorama of the United Arab Emirates, designed by German producer Hannah Hurtzig.

Showcase: work by several established UAE artists, namely Hassan Sharif, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Huda Saeed Saif and Tareq Al-Ghoussain.

Archive: scenography reminiscent of the World Fair tradition, including text panels and architectural models of UAE arts infrastructure. This included an audio guide written by Shumon Basher and narrated by Dr Lamees Hamdan.


The development and presentation of the Pavilion was organized by commissioner, Dr. Lamees Hamdan, a graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Dr. Hamdan is an avid art collector and patron with an extensive collection of Contemporary Middle East art.