Adele Bea Cipste

Artist Statement

My art practice, primarily rooted in drawing, photography and text, takes strong interest in physical space and its effects upon the observer. 

I position what I make as a means of encouraging slow looking and prompting a reflection on topics such as urban transformation, place attachment, and transience. I see my work as a means of opening up new or different pathways of looking at our surroundings in the UAE, where I have been based for the past 7 years and where my ways of looking and making have formed. Most of what I create, in one way or another, also serves as a reflection on my own position as a transplant in the environments that I engage with. 

I often say that the present is not temporally isolated, but that it contains all that which is, has been, could have been, has not been, or could be. This kind of collapse of time,or seeing what insights and imaginaries may be extracted from closely observing the present, is at the heart of my approach. 

The ongoing body of work shown here is a series of meditations on bodies of water throughout the city of Abu Dhabi, which takes interest in the metaphorical potential of the sea and of water, asking the viewer to consider what can it be, what can it hold, what insights about time, place and memory can be garnered from it. 

The display consists of interrelated text-drawings, paintings, and photographs created in response to the sea. The text-drawings, made by tracing over typewritten texts, are addressed to the visited sites in Abu Dhabi. They are conversations with spaces that speak about varying conceptions of time, raising questions of how to write a story about a fluctuating form. The paintings on view were made by altering a found book, leaving selected words visible in such a way that they form short insights about overlapping presence and absence in the documented spaces.

The displayed photographs map shifts in surface texture and light at two of the eight locations which these texts were written to, and which I visited and revisited since beginning work on this series in August 2022. The exclusion of the water’s surroundings frames these spaces as passageways between what is here and elsewhere, between the material (here) and the unreachable, between where I am standing (usually, the shore) as the observer and what is or may be across the water. The images linger between specificity and abstraction — they could be anywhere and, at the same time, speak to Abu Dhabi’s physical geography as an archipelago.


Adele Bea Cipste (b. 1998) is a visual artist working primarily with drawing, photography, and text. 

Her work evolves from recollected experiences of being in particular environments, or from locations that speak to her interest in their textural-architectural qualities and ambience. At the core of her practice is an exploration of what makes a place, how the body responds to physical environments, and how physical spaces can act as agents of memory. Many of her works inquire how the sense of motion, the experience of passing through a location, or transformation across time (either of the location itself or of the observer's internal response to the environment) can be transmitted through still images, objects, and texts. 

She holds a BA in Visual Arts and Film Practice (2022) from NYU Abu Dhabi and has recently exhibited her work at Alserkal Avenue (with Engage101), Manarat Al Saadiyat, Riga Photography Biennial, Gulf Photo Plus, and in Tokyo, Japan (with the UAE Embassy in Tokyo and Dirwaza Curatorial Lab) (2023).