National Pavilion UAE Announces Participation at 55th Venice Biennale

calendar-iconWednesday, 26 September, 2012

September 26th 2012 – Abu Dhabi – The National Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates is pleased to announce its participation at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, 2013. The Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, H.E. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais has appointed Dr Lamees Hamdan for a third consecutive term as Commissioner of the country’s National Pavilion. For the 2013 exhibition, Reem Fadda, an Associate Curator for Middle Eastern Art at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, will feature the work of Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem in a solo presentation in the pavilion. The National Pavilion has appointed the dynamic Emirati design house, Fikra, lead by Salem Al Qassimi to produce the visual elements related to both the organization and the exhibition. The Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation is generously supporting the Pavilion for the first time.

The Curator and Artist

Fadda is currently working as Associate Curator of Middle Eastern Art – Abu Dhabi Project at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation based in New York. She is also a PhD candidate at the History of Art and Visual Studies Department at Cornell University.

From her curatorial concept, Fadda stated; “Mohammed Kazem, a pioneering contemporary artist and thinker from the UAE, represents a generation that emerged from an avant-garde legacy of arts and artists in the UAE and the surrounding region, one that has thrived since the mid-70s with advocates such as his mentor artist Hassan Sharif. The curatorial research for our pavilions presentation in Venice will see Kazem as the leading individual artist and thinker he is and highlight his contribution to the local artistic heritage.”

Kazem first studied art at the Emirates Fine Art Society, he then went on to learn music, attend national and international art workshops, as well as teach painting at Dubai Art Atelier. Widely known through numerous solo and group exhibitions in the UAE and abroad, his works have been collected by private institutions such as Deutsche Bank as well as Museums in Doha, Sharjah, JP Morgan Chase Bank, USA, Sittard in Holland and by private collectors. Kazem has participated in many high profile exhibitions including the Havana Biennial (2000), Singapore Biennale (2006), Dhaka Biennial, Bangladesh (2002), and the Sharjah Biennale (1993 – 2007). Most recently he exhibited at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2010); and at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012).

A pioneer in the UAE contemporary art scene for his incorporation of video and new technologies, his interest in conceptual art and his progressive attitude towards medium and context is especially highlighted by his ongoing series “Directions.”

“By engaging the work of Kazem, we can witness the urban modernity of an emerging nation through the eyes of its individual artists. In pursuing this initiative we hope to demonstrate that the developments we see in the region today do not come from a void, but rather evolve from the contemporary thought and practice of artists and intellectuals like Kazem, whose work has consistently interrogated the relationship between the individual and his/her social, urban, and natural environments,“ elaborated Fadda.

The National Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates

Initiated and supported by His Excellency Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; the National Pavilion of the UAE continues to be developed and presented under the leadership of its Commissioner, Dr. Lamees Hamdan, a leader in the art and culture scene in the UAE and member of the Board of Directors of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

“Established to endorse the UAE’s art scene on an international platform and build on local projects, the National Pavilion will return to Venice in 2013 with a truly nation-wide offering. Fadda represents Abu Dhabi’s bold commitment to the UAE through its building of the Guggenheim Museum, Mohammed Kazem, from Dubai, has been a critical part of the fabric of every Sharjah Biennal from 1993 – 2007. Thus the 2013 Pavilion stands to strongly communicate internationally the depth of contemporary art practices in the United Arab Emirates” says Dr Hamdan.

“We are honored to have the support of the Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation for the National Pavilion. The Foundation’s commitment to art in the community, engagement and support for the UAE and international art scene is crucial,” added Dr Hamdan.

The Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation is the family foundation of Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan. Its mission is aligned with the goals of the National Pavilion and Venice Internship Program which strives to introduce not only the international community to Emirati artistic talent but so too young UAE nationals to the wealth of cultural experience encapsulated in the Venice Biennale. “Our founder, Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, is a passionate patron of the arts and a committed supporter of Emirati artists, and so it is with great pleasure that we are able to play a role in the program,” stated Dr Salvatore LaSpada, Executive Director of the Foundation.

The UAE has already presented two widely acclaimed iterations of the National Pavilion at the 53rd and 54th International Art Exhibitions. In 2009, the UAE made history becoming the first gulf nation to present a National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2011, the UAE presented its second National Pavilion curated by Vasif Kortun and featuring Emirati artists, Reem Al Ghaith, Abdullah Al Saadi and Lateefa bint Maktoum.

The National Pavilion of the UAE at the Venice Biennial is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and the Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.