women's pavilion expo 2020
At Expo 2020 Dubai, the Women's Pavilion leverages support and contribution from four creators in diverse fields. Image Credit: (From left to right) Maison & Objet, Vincent Tullo/The New York Times, Supplied, Shutterstock

Dubai: Guided by an advisory board consisting of the members of the UN Women, important figures in academia and even prominent UAE personalities, the Women’s Pavilion makes sure its conversations resonate with the current global agenda of women and girls. To encapsulate the pavilion’s vision, it ropes in four change-makers, who add an artistic dimension to the profound task at hand.

women's pavilion expo 2020
Under the theme of New perspectives: When women thrive, humanity thrives', the Women's Pavilion is a novel initiative by Expo 2020 Dubai, the first world expo since the 1900s to dedicate a stand-alone pavilion to empowering women. Image Credit: Supplied

“We really wanted to enrich this curation with another angle, a more artistic angle,” says Sophie Doireau, Managing Director of Cartier Middle East and India, at the press conference for the pavilion. Expo 2020 Dubai and French luxury goods conglomerate Cartier have been working together on the content, programming and the curation of the Women’s Pavilion as one team.

“We have onboarded four artists from various backgrounds – three women and one man,” adds Doireau, who says that the gender mix was deliberate to rally the cause from every voice.

Nadine Labaki, director and actress

A vocal advocate of women’s rights and issues, Oscar-nominated director Nadine Labaki will direct the Women's Pavilion introductory short film. Image Credit: Vincent Tullo/The New York Times

Known for her realistic portrayal of snapshots of life in Lebanon, Nadine Labaki is a vocal advocate of women’s rights and issues, as depicted in her directed works. The Lebanese director and actress will be in charge of the Women’s Pavilion introductory short film, which visually underscores the pavilion's theme of ‘When women thrive, humanity thrives.’

“I truly believe in the power of art in igniting change,” says Labaki on her role in the Women's Pavilion in an interview film played at the press conference. “It's very important that we show this other point of view, which is the women's point of view.”

In 2019, Labaki became the first female Arab filmmaker to ever receive a nomination for an Oscar in the best foreign language film category. Her Oscar-nominated film, ‘Capernaum’, also received the jury prize at Cannes Film Festival the year before, the movie only being her third feature film.

Mélanie Laurent, actress, director and singer

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French actress, director and singer Mélanie Laurent is curating the second floor exhibition of the Women's Pavilion. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The French actress, director and singer dons the role of a curator by designing the exhibition on the second floor of the Women’s Pavilion, where the experience is divided into three sections, merging cultural, artistic and social facets.

Laurent will showcase her photography and other selected works to paint the universal link between women and their ecosystems. This space in the first section will also include a sculpture.

Moving on to the next section, visitors will find a virtual reality film that tells the stories of women from all over the world, known and unknown, as they navigate through their experiences.

Finally, an audio-visual art piece in the third and final section will reflect women’s voices from all over the world.

Laura Gonzalez, architect and interior designer

laura gonzalez
The creative behind Cartier’s freshly renovated boutique in Dubai Mall, Laura Gonzalez has designed the pavilion facade to resemble constellations in a starry night sky, reflecting femininity and solidarity. Image Credit: Maison & Objet

Gonzalez is the creative behind Cartier’s freshly renovated boutique in Dubai Mall. The French designer’s personal style of art is often described as sophisticated with a whimsical, eclectic twist. She was awarded designer of the year at the 2019 Maison & Objet, a major trade fair for interior design held biannually in Paris.

The architect reimagines the Women’s Pavilion façade, which is embellished in a blanket of constellations that look like twinkling jewels in the night sky. Inspired by Cartier’s creative heritage, Gonzalez worked on the upper part of the exterior in collaboration with two women artists: young Emirati artist Kholoud Sharafi and French light designer Pauline David.

EL Seed, international multidisciplinary artist

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The only male ambassador representing the Women’s Pavilion, eL Seed is a champion for the women’s empowerment cause, showcasing his support through calligraphy painted on the bottom part of the facade in the fresco technique. Image Credit: Supplied

French-Tunisian artist eL Seed works activism and the call for peace into his Arabic calligraphy that he calls ‘calligraffiti’. His broad strokes can be notably spotted in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, Cairo, Toronto, Lebanon, Philadelphia and Dubai.

The only male ambassador representing the Women’s Pavilion, eL Seed is a champion for the women’s empowerment cause, showcasing his support through calligraphy painted on the bottom part of the facade in the fresco technique.

“In the Women's Pavilion, I'm trying to bring light to some amazing women that I met in Nepal,” says eL Seed.

Doireau says that eL Seed’s work on the pavilion interprets a poem by a Nepali female poet on the topic of women’s empowerment in the 1950s. The same ‘calligraffiti’ will be mirrored in a Nepali village, which was entirely rebuilt through the collective effort of women after a debilitating earthquake displaced 2.8 million people in 2015.

Visit the Women's Pavilion to learn and reflect on the perspectives offered by the four creative ambassadors that are advocating for women on their own terms through their artistic expressions.

- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.