Hammad Nasar to curate UAE National Pavilion in 2017 Venice Biennale
By Katherine Volk
On October 18, the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced writer and researcher Hammad Nasar as curator for their participation in the 2017 Venice Biennale. The UAE Pavilion has been commissioned by the Abu-Dhabi based Salama bint Hamdan al-Nahyan Foundation since 2013, and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
The 57th Venice Biennale (May 13–November 26, 2017) will mark the UAE’s fifth participation at the international event. Following the success of their 2015 presentation, a retrospective of 15 Emirati artists titled “1980 – Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates,” Nasar has expressed his intent to focus on fostering dialogue between contemporary artists in the region. According to the statement released by the National Pavilion UAE, Nasar’s curatorial direction “will explore the artistic practices of the UAE through the analogy of play . . . through the lens of imagination and non-linear exploration in art-making.” Nasar, who is currently the Head of Research and Programs at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong, aims to survey the key characteristics of Emirati artists, in particular works derived from the gestural practice of experimentation, which he noted is “a distinctive approach which has become embedded as one prominent strand in the very DNA of artistic practice in the Emirates.”
Khulood al-Atiyat, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan al-Nahyan Foundation said: “Hammad brings deep curatorial expertise and extensive international experience, and we feel confident that his exhibition will present a unique and interesting look at the art of the UAE.”
Since 2013, the UAE Pavilion has had a permanent space in Venice’s Arsenale following a 20-year agreement with the Biennale. The space currently features the exhibition “Transformations: The Emirati National House” (through November 27), curated by Yassar Elsheshtawy, as part of Venice Biennale's 15th International Architecture Exhibition.
Nasar has curated more than 30 exhibitions and programs globally including at the Pacific Asia Museum (2010) in Pasadena, California, London’s British Museum (2009) and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (2006). In 2005 he co-founded the non-profit Green Cardamom in London and is part of the jury for London’s Victoria and Albert Museum Jameel Prize. He is also part of the advisory panel for Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, the Delfina Foundation in London and the Lahore Biennale Foundation.
Katherine Volk is assistant editor at ArtAsiaPacific.
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