UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

29 April 2017Alserkal Avenue
UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play
    May 13–November 26, 2017 

    Inauguration: May 10, 3pm 

    United Arab Emirates Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 
    Arsenale - Sale d'Armi


Curated by Hammad Nasar, commissioned by Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, the exhibition Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play, will explore the concept of "playfulness" as a connecting thread across multiple generations of artistic practice in the UAE, addressing the questions: Where does "playfulness" in artistic practice come from? How and where is "play" nurtured? What does "play" do?

The exhibition will present new commissions, existing works and re-fabrications of "lost" pieces by five artists who call the UAE home: Nujoom AlghanemSara Al HaddadVikram DivechaLantian Xie and Dr. Mohamed Yousif. Their exhibited works approach play through movement, rhythm, form, time and place.



Nujoom Alghanem

Exhibition | Between Heaven and Earth, the Body I Borrowed

A sound installation based on a poetry performance, Space, a visual poem, and a reproduction of Silsilat Al Ramad, Volume 1, a self-published journal produced by the artist and members of the Aqwas collective in 1985



Sara Al Haddad

Exhibition | As you try to forget me (existing work)

Crocheted yarn installation
Exhibition | don’t you ever leave me alone (new comission) 
 A screen stretched between two of the pavilion’s pillars.

Exhibition | can’t you see how i feel (new comission)

A pillar sheathed in crocheted layers of pink yarn




Vikram Divecha

Exhibition | Degenerative Disarrangement, Bathing Boulders

An existing work made from bricks “relocated” in a new iteration.

Exhibition | Bathing Boulders

 A commissioned video work documenting the process of washing large rocks from Divecha’s 2014 work Boulder Plot.




Lantian Xie

Exhibition | Hassan’s Ashtray, Half-Cup Saffron and Taxidermy Peacock (existing works)

A selection of "things".

Exhibition | A Rumble Interrupted Our Chat (major comission)

A series of objects and happenings to unfold inside and outside the pavilion throughout the Biennale.



Dr. Mohamed Yousif

Exhibition | Al insiyabiyya bil majadeef taht al maa (refabricated work)

A large-scale installation of wooden oars.

Exhibition | Al Shwahid (refabricated work)

An assemblage of anthropomorphic spoons looking on a burial mound, with a mirror affixed in its center.






Dubai-based artists Ramin HaerizadehRokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian will contribute a series of paintings and collages conceived as a creative playground for the publication—treated as an additional site of the exhibition. Deepak Unnikrishnan writes a series of contemporary fables, while WTD magazine present a project mapping informal spaces of play in the UAE.

In a series of essays, art historian Murtaza Vali explores the artistic genealogy of play in the UAE focusing on Hassan Sharif and Abdullah Al Saadi. Uzma Rizvi approaches fluidity and spaces of belonging, and journalist Osman Samiuddin contributes a potted history of cricket in the UAE. Ethnomusicologist Aisha Bilkhair analyses Afro-Emirati music and folkloric games, and Reem Fadda and Maissa Al Qassimi write about the research on Abu Dhabi’s social clubs incorporated in their curation of Emirati Expressions IV 2015.

Several cultural institutions have been invited to join the conversation around the themes of the exhibition, including Sharjah Art FoundationThe Art Gallery at NYU Abu DhabiAlserkal ProgrammingTashkeelMaraya Art CentreWarehouse421, and Central Saint Martins, London.

Dubai-based artist Hind Mezaina will develop a program exploring the curatorial concepts through her own practice.