Collaborating with members of the UAE community, Marysia Lewandowska’s Cinema Island project helps us understand the importance of arts institutions in bringing media archives and private memory to public attention. Inside a chain-link, shiny cinema pavilion, we encounter oil-company documentaries intercut with home movies by Emiratis, which are narrated by voices of women today, exploring an open-ended staging of public memory. Whereas professional images produce orientalist narratives of modernization, often including only Emirati and British men, private film footage allows more complex stories to emerge. That way, as Lewandowska notes, “all the members of the family are included.” The voices of women point to what cameras cannot capture. Cinema Island initiates discussion on archives, memory, and history.
The work was originally curated by Hammad Nasar for the Gateway: Structures of Meaning | Architectures of Perception exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art 2018 and commissioned by Department of Culture and Tourism. The structure is designed by Aram Mooradian Summer Islam and George Massoud of MMI Architects.
The installation at NUYAD is produced by curator and faculty member Dale Hudson. It is supported by the NYUAD Art Gallery, Arts and Humanities Divisional Research and Creative Initiative Grant Program, and the UAE Department of Culture and Tourism.
Dale Hudson, Associate Teaching Professor of Film and New Media and Curator of Film and New Media, NYU Abu Dhabi
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