Moza Almatrooshi | Rana Begum | Chafa Ghaddar | Julie Becton Gillum | Gözde İlkin | Kiori Kawai | Sol LeWitt | Cristiana de Marchi | Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian | Haleh Redjaian | and more...

A Letter of Intent

This web page marks a moment in time, at the beginning of an experimental exchange among three collaborators:

1) The artist/s

2) The visitor/s (you)

3) The living keepers of the Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi (including the curators, the production managers, the content creators, the museum administrators, the security officers, the facilities crew, the student assistants…).

This is an exhibition about visiting and revisiting, about being physically present in the space, with the traces left by artists who have been there, or hints of those who will be there. Watch for updates, here and elsewhere.

This exhibition emerged as a response to a sense of urgency around the real-time changes we are experiencing today. Perhaps art can offer something different from the news, from the scroll, and yet not distract us or make us forget. Artists have been invited, on very short notice. Some were unable to. Those who said yes are preparing work, or preparing to prepare work. As the show evolves, and history unfolds around us, my readings of the artworks themselves are changing.

Some artworks will appear first as a letter of intent. Others will evolve over the course of the exhibition. Some will arrive ready-made, but ask us to consider the space around us. Some artists will leave traces as if to say, “the artist was here, and may be back.” Some dancers and performers will come and go, changing the work yet again. Some works might only last one day. I invited our curator, Duygu Demir, to offer a curatorial intervention: an artist will bring an entire scenography, and collaborate on a performance that brings certain “choreographic objects” to life. The artist list will grow, if and when it seems right. Two of the works will be made entirely by the hands of the community. We will invite you to be one of those participants.


I often say that if words could explain what art is actually doing, artists wouldn’t need to make art, they could just say it. It’s a good tool for when there are no easy words. For me, when artists are at work in the gallery, or when I am in a place where they have recently made new work, a quality of “being present” pervades the space. And so, I invited artists to make work in the space, or to bring work that invites us to notice our own presence, taking up space. A few will bring existing work that speaks directly to the way our body lives and moves through space.

We will see what happens.

Every time I embark on a new curatorial project, I ask the “why” of art (what is it for? Or, why do I do what I do for a living?). This line of questioning is critical, because the answer changes constantly. It’s a bracing, uncomfortable process, and a very rewarding one.

What do we need from a space for art in this particular moment, in this particular part of the world, in the UAE, in a university, in an academic gallery? I hope this exhibition allows for any number of responses.

—Maya Allison

Image credit: Rana Begum, No.1254 (detail), 2023. Ink on paper, 213 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai. Image courtesy of Begum Studio

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