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In collaboration with the Middle East Institute (MEI), Washington DC, the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) launched its latest publications Portrait of a Nation II and Art of the Emirates II, with an art talk titled From Local to Global, The Transformation of the UAE Arts Scene at MEI in Washington, DC, followed by a book signing.
Melissa Gronlund, editor of Art of the Emirates II, and established Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, whose work is featured in Abu Dhabi Festival’s (ADF) landmark exhibition and its catalogue book, Portrait of a Nation II, discussed the growth of the UAE’s art scene and its future with MEI’s Senior Vice President, Kate Seelye. Commenting on the collaboration, Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, ADMAF Founder and ADF Founder and Artistic Director, said: “We are pleased to partner with the Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Center to present audience members with the enlightening opportunity to learn about the remarkable transformation of the UAE’s art scene over 50 years as documented in ADMAF’s two historic publications.
“Portrait of A Nation II, the companion book to our landmark exhibition, and Art of the Emirates II, together reflect our nearly three-decade commitment to publishing works that highlight the creative excellence of the artists and protagonists who have inspired and contributed to our nation’s exceptional progress.
“Established author and editor Melissa Gronlund and prominent Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz provide valuable insight into the important role the books play in archiving and mapping the UAE’s cultural and artistic landscape.” Gronlund remarked: “I am delighted to launch these books on behalf of ADMAF with the MEI Art Gallery in Washington, DC. The MEI has done such interesting and original programming around UAE and Arab contemporary art, and they are a perfect place in which to delve into the story of the development of art in the UAE told by Art of the Emirates II and Portrait of a Nation II.” An integral part of the UAE’s art scene, artist and writer Ebtisam Abdulaziz has a long-standing relationship with ADMAF; most recently, her work appeared in ADF 2022’s flagship Portrait of a Nation II: Beyond Narratives exhibition, curated by Maya El Khalil, to which the publication Portrait of a Nation II is a companion volume.
Reflecting on her participation in the talk and book signing, she said: “I am so excited to take part in the panel conversation at the Middle East Institute and the book launching by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.
“It is an honour to celebrate a book that documents the art scene in the UAE that would be useful as a reference resource. I am also thrilled to tell my story, my perspective, experience, and my contribution as an artist, writer and educator in the last 20 years.” The United States book launch celebrated the work of the UAE’s national and resident artists and art proponents who have contributed to the nation’s rapid rise in the art and cultural scene. Art of the Emirates II is structured as a series of round tables, interviews and oral histories, with participants including Zaki Nusseibeh, Sultan Al Qassemi, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Kevin Jones, Manal Ataya, and Nawar Al Qassimi, among others.
Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, ADMAF Founder and the Founder and Artistic Director of ADF
The book maps the UAE’s booming art scene and its leading global position as an artistic and cultural hub and is an unprecedented conversation with the people who have written and continue to write the history of art in the UAE.
Portrait of a Nation II documents more than 100 prominent artworks featured in the Portrait of a Nation II: Beyond Narratives exhibition, including 17 commissions, by the over 60 artists who have shaped the artistic and cultural landscape of the nation, including Hassan and Hussein Sharif, Nujoom Al Ghanem, Mohammed Kazem, Farah Al Qasimi, Ebtisam Abdulaziz and many more.
Prefaced by a select group of renowned art and culture figures, the book seeks to map the art ecology of the Emirates and explores how narratives about history are formed in themes dealing with language, home, exile, and community.
Founded in 1946, the Middle East Institute is the oldest Washington-based institution dedicated solely to the study of the Middle East. It is a non-partisan think tank providing expert policy analysis, educational and professional development services, and a hub for engaging with the region’s arts and culture.
Its mission is to increase knowledge of the Middle East among citizens of the United States and to promote a better understanding between the people of the two regions.
ADMAF was established in 1996 and is one of the earliest cultural foundations in the Gulf region and Arab World. It seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity, sustain cultural development, contribute to the development of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision and hold it up as a cultural beacon.
Founded in 2004, the first ADF was held under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then Minister of Information and Culture (currently the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation).
ADF symbolises the festival of “Bilad Al Khayr”, the land of blessings, and the land of Zayed. It strives to embrace values of dialogue, tolerance, respect and peace. The annual Festival commissions, produces, preserves and presents the greatest works of music and art to create rich cultural experiences in the UAE and beyond.
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