Exhibition: But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community 1988-2008 at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Abdullah Al Saadi_But We Cannot See Them NYU Abu Dhabi.jpg

Detail from work by Abdullah Al Saadi

But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008 is the current exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. It opened on 2nd March and is on until 2nd September 26 August 2017. The exhibition focuses on an art movement that not many know of and showcases a chapter of the UAE's art scene that began more than 30 years ago, and refutes the perceived notion that the art scene in the UAE came into existence post 2000. 

This exhibition surveys one of the most important artistic communities in the UAE’s history. Community has played a key role in every modern art historical breakthrough, with artists banding together around manifestos, or turning to one another for support when art institutions rejected their innovations. Art communities grow out of critical and creative exchange among peers and mentors. 

But We Cannot See Them focuses on one community of artists, sometimes called “the five”, at an intersection of visual artists, writers, and filmmakers based in the UAE. Its members identified with a “new culture” of encouraging radical, formal and conceptual experimentation. Eventually, some of these artists founded the celebrated Flying House. 

The exhibition features works by Hassan SharifMohamed Ahmed IbrahimAbdullah Al SaadiMohammed KazemHussein SharifVivek VilasiniJos Clevere and Ebtisam Abdulaziz

In tandem with the exhibition is a publication of interviews with the artists. Together, the exhibition and the book traces the formation of this artistic community. 

I met Maya Allison, Bana Kattan and Alaa Edris who all worked on this exhibition and recorded our discussion for the Tea with Culture podcast.

This is quite an important and well researched exhibition. If you have not yet visited, please go before it closes on 2nd September.