Go Back to Move Forward presents artworks by fourteen artists who grapple with an unsettling past, a turbulent present, and an imagined future. The exhibition navigates the socio-political landscapes of the Arab world by bringing together 18 artworks through which artists reimagine reality through collective memory. In interrogating the present and the past, these artists also envisage a future, using science fiction, symbolism and metaphor to construct a futuristic image. Juxtaposing history and hope, personal experience and expectation, this exhibition offers a point of entry into what is, too often, inaccessible. 

Rooted in the contexts of the Middle East, the exhibition nevertheless engages contemporary realities that transcend spatio-temporal boundaries. Crossing between the real and the surreal, these artists depict their feelings of loss, longing, and liberation in ways that invite viewers to reflect upon their own diverse lives and histories.

H.E, Dr. Zaki wrote:

Picasso once said that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I am happy when I see young people engaged in exploring and enjoying art, which should always be accessible to all. The NYUAD group of passionate curators and art historians do a great job and do us a favor in studying and expounding the artworks they picked out for their exhibitions. I am grateful for their dedication, and pray that they help all of us retain the artist that is in us no matter how old we grow.

Image credit: Hiba Kalache, Selective Memory, 2012
Ink, aquarelle & acrylic lacquer on paper, diptych 2/2
73 × 103 cm

Student Curators

  • Ward
  • Alya Alawadhi
  • Fatema AlNuaimi
  • Fatima Al Kindi
  • Hessa Al Nuaimi
  • Roudha AlShehhi
  • Sara AlZaabi
  • Nada Ammagui
  • Lee Hyun Choi
  • Bernice delos Reyes
  • Diego Arias García
  • Dahee Kim
  • Cristalina Parra Nuñez
  • Anita Shishani
  • Insun Woo

With special thanks to H.E. Dr. Zaki Nusseibeh, Professor Salwa Mikdadi, the NYUAD Art Gallery Team, and all those who recorded their responses to the artwork.

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