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University art gallery’s Spring Show opens on Saturday

Exhibition is the first institutional retrospective of award-winning artists and architects Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti

Gulf News

ABU DHABI: The New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery has announced the opening of its spring show, ‘Permanent Temporariness’, to the public from Saturday.

The exhibition, which runs until June 9, is the first institutional retrospective of renowned award-winning artists and architects Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti. Featuring works across a variety of mediums, the exhibition will explore how human experiences and identities are shaped in the modern flux of “permanence” or “impermanence”.

‘Permanent Temporariness’ is guest-curated by NYUAD faculty 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 exhibition ‘Invisible Threads: Technology and its Discontents (NYUAD)’ and ‘But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community 1988-2008 (NYUAD)’.

The exhibition will feature seven installations, three of which are beyond the gallery walls. It reactivates five of the artists’ signature installations to date, including The Concrete Tent, Common Assembly, Ramallah Syndrome, The Book of Exile, and The Tree School.

Two of the artworks were developed specifically for this show, from the artists’ current research projects. ‘Living Room’ is a performance piece arising out of Hilal’s work with a Syrian refugee couple who became active hosts in their refugee camp living room in Boden, Sweden. In her hosting performance, Hilal activates our awareness of what they call “the right to host.”

‘Refugee Heritage’ is a series of light box-mounted photographs taken by Unesco photographer Luca Capuano at one of the world’s oldest refugee camps, Dheisheh camp in Bethlehem. Over the last two years, Hilal and Petti led a series of discussions in both refugee camps and elsewhere on the implications of inscribing refugee history and heritage on the Unesco World Heritage List. The nomination dossier was published in 2016 in e-flux publishing platform.

Co-curator and NYU Abu Dhabi faculty Mikdadi said: “In ‘Permanent Temporariness’, Hilal and Petti present conceptual speculations that examine the state of impermanence and ‘refugeeness’ beyond victimhood and beyond charitable gestures. They offer the audience new ways of engaging with this critical and timely topic. I am delighted to be working with them again, having presented their work at the Venice Biennale almost a decade ago.”

Kattan said, “‘Permanent Temporariness’ embodies our vision at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, which is to organise exhibitions that connect with important topics, globally. Also, this is our first exhibition that sees performances and artworks installed beyond the gallery walls, with the NYU Abu Dhabi campus providing a unique backdrop.”

The exhibition will kick off with a public talk on Saturday between artists Hilal and Petti, and curators Mikdadi and Kattan.