Abu Dhabi Art announced today that the guest curators for its 2021 Beyond: Emerging Artists programme will be Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, co-founders of multidisciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented. The curators have chosen three UAE-based emerging artists - Hashel Al Lamki, Maitha Abdalla and Christopher Benton - to participate this year and create new commissions for the exhibition in November.

“We are honoured and delighted to have such distinguished curators as Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath helming the Beyond: Emerging Artists programme for 2021. With their critical insights into Modern and Contemporary art from the region, they will bring a deeply informed art-historical context and perspective to bear on what can be viewed as a new moment for the contemporary Emirati art scene today,” said Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art. “The commissioned artists for 2021, Hashel Al Lamki, Maitha Abdalla and Christopher Benton, are all key voices from within the community and will be supported by Sam and Till as they realise ambitious new projects for this year’s programme. We are thrilled that they have accepted the invitation to participate in the programme this year.”

The commissioned artists each bring a unique perspective to this year’s programme. Al Lamki is inspired by the evolution of the UAE’s cultural dynamic since the early 2000s, while performance artist Abdalla explores the real and the imagined using memory and folktales. Benton’s multimedia works span sculpture, photography and film.

“We are thrilled to be curating Abu Dhabi Art's 2021 Beyond: Emerging Artists programme,” said Bardaouil and Fellrath. “The next edition will showcase new commissions by three very diverse artists whose practices are marked by a truly interdisciplinary approach, in both conceptual reference and choice of media. Departing from a position of heightened social engagement, and with remarkable formal inventiveness and intellectual rigour, Maitha, Hashel and Christopher touch upon a number of pertinent issues that are of significant relevance to the socio-cultural context of the UAE, as well as the current discourse within the global arts community.”

Al Lamki said, “I am super excited and thankful to be selected for the Beyond: Emerging Artists programme this year, to be among other great artists that I consider friends and family, and work with star curators Sam and Till.” He added, “I have known Maitha and Christopher for a long time, we have a close connection, we discuss our projects and help each other out.”

Al Lamki’s project for the programme, titled Dice, highlights the patterns of the world, showing that everything has a rise and fall, and is meant to repeatedly evoke a sense of tension and release.

Abdalla said, “My work often revolves around local stories, folktales and mythology and explores the boundaries of these stories through performance. I plan on exploring one of these folktales in particular this year, a folkloric female character who pushes boundaries and is feared by the community. Working with Sam and Till will be fantastic, they are curators that I have been following and admiring.”

Abdalla added, “The body of work I am producing is across multiple disciplines, tackling the conflict between the desire for freedom and the social limitation in society.”

Benton said, “The curators Till and Sam have already been incredible mentors and friends, working with me to challenge and develop my ideas for this commission. It has been a really fun process. I am presenting a project that is looking at the date palm tree as a symbol for the movement of people, ideas, and products across the world, and across decades. I am envisioning my project as comprising a large-scale installation, video and sculpture, and I can’t wait to share what I have been working on this November.

” He added, “I am grateful to be part of Abu Dhabi Art this year and to be able to explore untold histories and journeys through a platform that brings the art world together from around the world in the UAE.” Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021 will be on show at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 17 November until 22 January 2022.

The fair’s upcoming edition will open to the public at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Thursday 18 November to Sunday 21 November 2021, with an opening reception on 17 November.

Strict precautionary and hygiene measures will be enforced at Abu Dhabi Art 2021 to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participants and visitors. Details of these measures will be announced in due course.

For more information on Abu Dhabi Art 2021 and its year-round programmes, visit abudhabiart.ae and follow Abu Dhabi Art on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.