It’s Not You, It’s Me
The 53rd International Art Exhibition
Curated by Tirdad Zolghadr for Biennale Arte 2009 and commissioned by Dr Lamees Hamdan, It’s Not You, It’s Me was 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.
Built in a large and prominent location in the Arsenale, the Pavilion drew attention to its nature and function as a showcase through a combination of scenographic elements and 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: A ‘Familial’ component featuring work by 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’, is a documentary of a Dubai performance by the Jackson Pollock Bar. A ‘Nation Builders’ component, with a kiosk featuring conversations with key figures in the cultural panorama of the United Arab Emirates, designed by German producer Hannah Hurtzig. The final showcase featured work by several established UAE artists, namely Hassan Sharif, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Huda Saeed Saif and Tareq Al-Ghoussain. The archive consists of scenography reminiscent of the World Fair tradition, including text panels and architectural models of UAE arts infrastructure which included an audio guide written by Shumon Basar and narrated by Dr Lamees Hamdan.
The accompanying publication titled It’s not you, It’s me, edited by Tirdad Zolghadr and Hassan Khan, documents the rise of the UAE art scene and discusses future museum projects. A large section is dedicated to featured artist Lamya Gargash.
The 53rd International Art Exhibition, titled Making Worlds, curated by Daniel Birnbaum, was open to the public 7 June – 22 November 2009.