NYU Abu Dhabi's Downtown Campus has once again been transformed into an art gallery. Currently, the University is hosting two solo exhibitions by UAE-based artists Mohammed Kazem and Jessica Mein.
Kazem, an Emirati artist based in Dubai, has created a site-specific installation especially for NYUAD. The installation, which can be seen in the University's Welcome Center, is part of his larger Directions series. Using the unpredictable movements of sunlight, water, and wind to present fixed GPS coordinates, Kazem challenges the idea of set borders and locations. In addition, elsewhere throughout the University's north building are the artist's 28 "scratch paintings," created using handmade paper. Depending on the lighting, the rhythmic patterns of the scratches cast different shadows, producing the final image of the work. A young yet internationally established artist, Kazem looks forward to representing the UAE at the 55th Art Biennale in Venice from June 1 to November 24. He will be the first artist to represent the UAE in a solo show at the exhibition.
Mein, a Brazilian artist working between New York, Sao Paulo, and Dubai, is exhibiting Sliced Sky, a collection inspired by the power lines stretching across the skies of Dubai. Following solo shows in Brazil, Mexico, New York, Germany, and the UAE, Sliced Sky is her first exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Mein produces highly detailed drawings and collages, as well as stop-motion animations, of power lines to depict the impossibility of portraying a place.
The works have received mixed responses from viewers — some leave captivated, while others leave puzzled — yet Maya Allison, NYUAD's exhibition director, evaluates the show as a success. "As long as they are asking me questions and talking to each other about it, whether they like the work or not, it breathes life into our experience of the creative process, as I believe that the viewer is an integral part of the work of art," she said.
Diana Gluck, NYUAD Class of 2016, a curatorial intern in the University's Exhibitions department who led her first art tour this week, said that the exhibition "Makes me think about art, and it's been interesting to see who comes to view the artwork."
Looking to bring students closer to the world of art and culture outside of textbooks and occasional field trips, Allison hopes that the exhibition will "serve to help the process of activating conversations about art in the Abu Dhabi community, and linking the community of the region to the community of the campus through events and talks, as well as through contact with the art itself."
The exhibitions will be open until May 2. Visitors are welcome to participate in art tours held every Sunday from 3-9pm, or to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment. An artist's talk and reception will be held at NYUAD's Downtown Campus on April 6.