Abu Dhabi Art 2021 announces guest curators and commissioned artists
Abu Dhabi Art will return as a physical event this year after being virtually hosted in 2020.
Taking place in Manarat Al Saadiyat from November 17-21, the art fair announced the names of its guest curators, as well as the artists participating in this year’s Beyond: Artist Commissions program.
For the 2021 iteration, Simon Njami and Rose Lejeune return as guest curators. Njami, who lives in Paris, is a highly regarded curator, art critic and author who focuses on contemporary African art, while Lejeune is a curator and researcher interested in performance art.
Both worked with Abu Dhabi Art last year, adapting their sections for the online version of the fair after Covid-19 scrapped plans for an in-person event.
This year, however, Njami will feature a different curatorial setting named Kind of Blue, a reference to a Miles Davis album. For the section, the curator will draw inspiration from the improvised nature of jazz music, constructing an exhibition in which the works in the gallery booths will respond to each other in a sort of orchestra.
Njami said the African artists he will bring to the fair “have unique techniques and ways of approaching contemporary issues.”
“They also come from various places and not only from continental Africa… I chose jazz music as a metaphor for the gathering of galleries that I invited to participate in this edition of the fair because, in my eyes, jazz is the best representation of what are the stakes of ‘Contemporary African Art’ ”.
He also explained that he hoped Abu Dhabi art would play a role in bridging the “cultural divide between the Middle East and Africa”.
Lejeune’s performance program will be activated at different venues in Abu Dhabi, with live sets from artists offering poetic ways of discovering the capital. She commissioned four artists, including Louise Hervé and Clovis Maillet, Mays Albaik and Taus Makhacheva for this year’s iteration.
“My 2021 program will place the public back in the temporal and physical space of the artists’ work; exploring the transformative power of storytelling to create a series of journeys through stories, memories and fictions – both at the fair and throughout the city itself, ”said Lejeune.
Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond: Artists Commissions was established in 2017 with the aim of bringing artistic interventions across the emirate and historic sites of Al Ain. The works will be unveiled during the fair and will be visible until January 22.
This year’s program will feature new large-scale works by Aya Haidar, Hazem Harb, Najat Makki, Rasheed Araeen and Richard Atugonza.
The fair also offers an on-site program called In & Around, which will serve as a response to Beyond: Artists Commissions, featuring works by Alfredo Jaar, Hera Buyktascıyan, Siah Armajani and Zineb Sedira.
Throughout the year, Abu Dhabi Art also runs its Collectors Forum conference program, set up by Roxane Zand, former vice-president of Sotheby’s. So far, Zand has addressed topics such as non-fungible tokens and will continue to develop discussions of art collection and contemporary practices around the world.
In July, the fair announced that Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath would be the curators of the Beyond: Emerging Artists program, which will feature new commissioned works from Hashel Al Lamki, Maitha Abdalla and Christopher Benton.
More information on Abu Dhabi Art 2021 can be found at abudhabiart.ae
Update: September 30, 2021, 4:59 am