Abu Dhabi Art, 2017

Speakers: Aseel Al Yaqoub, Visual Artist and Dr. Farah Al-Nakib, Associate Professor of History, moderated by Taibah Al Bishr, Cultural Producer.

The sub-theme of GCC Narratives was at the core of all the talks, acting as the binder subject amongst them. Here personal narratives emerged alongside the mapping of identity and social evolution through language, architecture and space. The rapidly changing landscape has been the root cause of transformations found within identity, language, public versus private spaces, architecture and culture. Identity in the Gulf region is ever evolving although generally it is boxed in to a certain time in history, be it the Golden Era of Kuwait (1960-1980), or looking at culture and heritage in the United Arab Emirates before its unification in 1971. Through contemporary art practice, a new identity is suggested. Language being the essence of thought and culture being the most provoked element in the region throughout the recent history, the talks analysed both in great depth. Questions of translation emerged, expanding on gaps that have become visible through the borrowing of certain practices and terminology, such as ‘curation’, from the western hemisphere. The importance of Arabic content creation addressed breaks in the thought process involved in creating subjects and progressing technical terminology. Alongside developments in the arts, intergenerational gaps have become wider, and more obvious. Targeting these gaps and bridging them allowed for the creation of a web, in depth narratives, and discursive parallels to be drawn across the Gulf state borders. - Munira AlSayegh