Spring art exhibition at NYUAD

New art show explores a sense of belonging in a new city

Just what is home? Is it a physical location or an idea more deeply imbedded in our minds than mere bricks and mortar?

It is a question that scores of expats here in the capital will often ponder, especially as the years go by and we
forge new friendships, laying down roots in a city that all of a sudden has become a more permanent dwelling than a temporary stop-off.

This antithesis of the temporary and the permanent is at the heart of the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery Spring Exhibition.

Permanent Temporariness, a mid-career retrospective of renowned, award-winning duo Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, explores this intriguing issue through the platform of art. The creative pair’s body of work investigates how our experiences are shaped by our understanding of permanence and impermanence in our environmnent through large-scale installations that bridge architecture and art.

Their engaging creations are often housed outside of the traditional art exhibition format, including at multiple biennials such as Venice, Istanbul, São Paulo, and Marrakesh, with this being the first time they have gone on display at a gallery.

Permanent Temporariness is guest-curated by NYUAD Associate Professor Salwa Mikdadi, who is among the foremost historians of modern art from the Arab world. It is co-curated by Bana Kattan, NYUAD Art Gallery Curator, who recently co-curated the popular Invisible Threads exhibition (NYUAD).

Two of the artworks to be featured have been designed especially for this show.

Living Room is a performance piece which lays bare the uncertainties that arise when when navigating another culture.

Refugee Heritage, meanwhile, is an installation comprised of a series of lightbox-mounted pictures taken by an official UNESCO photographer at the oldest refugee camp in the world. It looks at the dichotomy of a place that was meant to be temporary but has instead become the only home that generations of families have ever known.

Kattan says: “We are thrilled to have Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti with us for their first-ever large-scale, meditative retrospective. Permanent Temporariness connects our physical world (geographically and architecturally) to both historical and current events, as Petti and Hilal’s works embrace such topics as modern geopolitics and the plight of refugees.

“The Art Gallery strives to present shows that are both locally relevant and internationally significant, and this subject matter is particularly resonant now.”

So the exhibition has found a new temporary home. Go along and check it out.

Opens Sat, Feb 24. noon-8pm. NYUAD Art Gallery, Saadiyat Island, www.nyuad-artgallery.org .

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