Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority Celebrates the Opening of The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence, Second Exhibition from The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection
The exhibition features works of more than 25 artists, supported by a series of public programmes of talks and workshops
(Abu Dhabi—March 7, 2017)—Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) celebrated today the opening of The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Featuring works by more than 25 artists from different nationalities and generations, the exhibition explores the related themes of performance, process, and presence through a variety of mediums. Running until 29 July 2017, The Creative Act is the second major exhibition of works from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection.
HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General of TCA Abu Dhabi, commented on the exhibition “The Creative Act offers a transcultural perspective on defining aspects of contemporary art by highlighting interconnections among artists working in various corners of the world since the 1960s. The works in the exhibition reveal common sources of inspiration, lines of influence, and distinctive contributions. Two commissions featured in the exhibition reflect the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s commitment to supporting the production of new work by living artists. This exhibition marks not only the next defining step for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, but also the establishment of the future museum’s role to encourage, inspire, and inform. Only through direct interaction with artworks, themes, creative professionals, and artists can we provide future generations with a fully rounded set of tools through which to understand the development of artistic expression.”
Three distinct yet interconnected themes of the exhibition—performance, process, and presence—provide a unifying framework for the exhibition, with many artists exploring more than one theme in the works on view.
Performance can be represented in several different forms: unfolding live in a given time and place, remaining afterward as recordings and documentations, or serving primarily as the means for creating discrete objects. The Creative Act features examples of live actions that constitute works in and of themselves and performative practices that result in drawings, paintings, sculptures, and videos. A selection of photographs document the renowned Emirati artist Hassan Sharif’s 1980s performances, which he realised in both London and Dubai. His conceptual, experimental, and performative practice greatly influenced the subsequent generation of artists in the United Arab Emirates, such as Mohammed Kazem, who is also featured in The Creative Act.
Many of the artworks offer insight into the process used to make them. A key work within this section is Anish Kapoor’s My Red Homeland (2003), a monumental sculptural installation composed of nearly twenty-five tonnes of red wax with a mechanical arm that circumnavigates the platform, continually altering the surface as it moves across the material. Works by pioneering 1960s experimental art practitioners including Rasheed Araeen, Julio Le Parc, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Günther Uecker, and Jacques Villeglé, explore the process of creating with everyday materials and using performative techniques.
The theme of human presence is highlighted through artworks that involve the appearance of the artist or others in the works as well as visible traces of the physical acts undertaken to realise them. Paintings by artists affiliated with the Gutai Art Association (1954–72) including Motonaga Sadamasa, Shiraga Kazuo, and Tanaka Atsuko epitomise these ideas. Video installations by Susan Hefuna and Anri Sala take the performing arts—dance and music respectively—and the theme of interpretation as points of departure. Autobiography (03-07) (2007), a series of forty photographs and a video, captures Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz’s performances in various public spaces in Sharjah and examines the often complex relationship between social and personal identities.
Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, commented: “The Creative Act brings into focus the complexity, poetry, and power of the human spirit. The exhibition also reflects our shared understanding of the vital necessity of global exchange that is at the heart of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is proud to be working with Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority to realize this exhibition that celebrates the considerable scholarship underpinning the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection and the catalytic potential of the future museum as a vital addition to the cultural landscape of the region and the world.”
In line with the commitment of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi to support original work by living artists, TCA Abu Dhabi has commissioned artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian to create an installation inspired by the core themes of The Creative Act. Another Happy Day (2016–17) is a multiroom, immersive installation featuring artworks by the commissioned artists and others, which, like the selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection, probe the nature of the creative artistic process while inviting visitors to become engaged and activated. This project, coupled with photographs by Tarek Al-Ghoussein, part of a series commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection, offers a convergence of past, present, and future in our own time.
The Creative Act: Performance, Process, Presence is curated by Valerie Hillings Ph.D., Curator and Manager of Curatorial Affairs, Sasha Kalter-Wasserman, Assistant Curator, with Sara Dwider, Curatorial Assistant, Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; and Maisa Al Qassimi, Programmes Manager – Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, with Muneera Al Sayegh, Programmes Officer - Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
About Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction, which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The authority manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. TCA Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base. http://tcaabudhabi.ae/en
About Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will promote the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art, architecture, and other manifestations of modern and contemporary visual culture from an international perspective. A curatorial programme with a transcultural perspective on art and visual culture from the 1960s to the present will have a strong focus on art from West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia, exploring the specific identity derived from the cultural traditions of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. The future museum, and its growing collection, is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi. Surrounded almost entirely by water, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will have spectacular views of the Saadiyat Cultural District and the Arabian Gulf. Galleries, many unprecedented in scale, are distributed around the central atrium on four levels connected by glass bridges above. Open to the elements, the museum cones housing contemporary art commissions, recall the region’s ancient wind-towers, which both ventilate and shade the exterior courtyards in a fitting blend of Arabian tradition and modern design. The museum will also feature a 350-seat theatre, education workshops and classrooms, an onsite conservation lab, as well as a retail store, cafes, and a restaurant.
The museum will be a catalyst for scholarship in a variety of fields, chief among them the history of art from West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries. A dynamic programme of changing exhibitions will explore common themes and affinities among the work of artists across time and geography. An ambitious programme of commissions created for the collection and exceptional spaces of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will reinforce the museum's commitment to working with artists and the art of our time.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is being developed in collaboration with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997), and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). The Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that celebrate contemporary art, architecture, and design within and beyond the walls of the museum, including the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. More information about the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation can be found at guggenheim.org.