Speculative Landscapes: Imagined Worlds of Four UAE-based Artists

Jumairy, BRZ5 Imagined, 2019, Digital Collage. Courtesy of the artist.

This exhibition will feature new installations by four UAE-based artists who are each emerging internationally: Areej Kaoud, Ayman Zedani, Jumairy, and Raja’a Khalid

Press Release

This fall, NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery, the University’s academic museum-gallery, invites viewers into the imagined worlds of four UAE-based artists who have each emerged in the Gulf, and are rising internationally. Open to the public from September 16 – December 7, 2019, the exhibition is curated by Chief Curator at NYU Abu Dhabi and Executive Director of the NYUAD Art Gallery, Maya Allison. Through close study of their surroundings in the UAE, each of the artists here reflect on our shared futures: Areej Kaoud, Ayman Zedani, Jumairy, and Raja’a Khalid.

Speculative Landscapes presents a series of new installations through which each artist explores the very concept of environment (natural, artificial, virtual). Each raises a question: how do organisms – whether human or other – create, survive, and inhabit our natural, artificial, and virtual worlds? The four artists in this exhibition have developed their practice in the UAE, establishing a strong regional track record, as well as an emerging international presence. They share a speculative practice, extrapolating imagined worlds within existing ones.

Ayman Zedani, Becoming-with (red), 2019, print on archival paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Each installation offers an imaginary journey derived from the artists’ real-world observations of everyday life. In Khalid’s performative installation, she invites viewers to embrace personal well-being as a commodifiable trend, while Kaoud’s playground keeps visitors on high alert to ever-present risk. In two very different landscape installations, Zedani and Jumairy each propose worlds in which our natural bodies and the landscape around us manifest biological or artificial intelligence.


“For me, these artists capture something unique in their perspectives, both in how they respond to our surroundings, and how they connect to the unusual art scene here. There has been an apparently fast rise of contemporary art in the UAE that matches the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the country since its founding in 1971."

Chief Curator at NYU Abu Dhabi and Executive Director of the NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.