Light art exhibition Manar Abu Dhabi opened its doors to visitors. It promises compelling light artworks installed across various islands, mangroves, and natural vistas in the capital.
A key pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Public Art Abu Dhabi initiative, Manar Abu Dhabi’s inaugural edition is held under the theme Grounding Light, rooted in the concept of grounding and self-enlightenment and the belief that light is a reflection of our inner selves, body, mind, nature and spirit. Curated by Reem Fadda and Alia Zaal Lootah, the citywide exhibition features an array of artworks by over 20 local, regional and international artists from the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Taiwan, Germany, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
On Fahid Island, Jim Denevan has created Self Similar, a monumental land art installation illuminated by 432 solar lanterns, where towering clouds and tiny grains of sand coalesce into a symphony of interconnectedness. Meanwhile, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer takes over Lulu Island with Translation Island, an interactive journey through 10 large-scale audiovisual multimedia artworks. An ambitious technological tour de force, the works employ ultrasonic atomizers, Geiger counters and thermal cameras, among other equipment.
Some of the installations use light to represent or interact with natural and cosmic phenomena, while others reflect on the transient nature of existence, human understanding and misunderstanding. Ultimately, the exhibition is a platform for self-representation and participation by the visitors. Developing the participatory element further, on Corniche Beach, Carsten Höller creates with Abu Dhabi Dots, a game that invites visitors to interact with light and change its properties, while Shilpa Gupta reflects on humans’ ability for change in an artwork presented in Arabic, English, and Urdu. Transforming Corniche Beach into her canvas with the aid of two LED screens, the iconic artist Samia Halaby merges painting with kinetic technology, giving typically visual ideas a concrete body, reflecting growth and development.
A second series of artworks will be unveiled in Al Samaliyah Island artworks on December 20, and remain on view until January 30. Among the artists whose projects will open in the second half of December, teamLab use digital technologies to create startling immersive artworks that transport viewers into a world where nature and technology converge in harmony. Similarly, Ayman Zedani studies the interplay between humans and the natural world in his work Terrapolis, blurring the lines between life forms and prompting reflection on our connection to the Earth and other species in the modern Gulf environment. Representing collaboration across various realms and the nation’s developmental journey as a work of art, Mohammed Kazem manifests the unity and boundless opportunities that the Emirates offer through a circular arrangement of numerical coordinates in his Directions, UAE artwork.
In conjunction with the art installations at Manar Abu Dhabi, a schedule of public talks, workshops and performances is offered to visitors over the course of the exhibition. These endeavours highlight Public Art Abu Dhabi’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the emirate’s public spaces through art, building upon a vibrant cultural legacy while looking forward to a future rich with creative potential.
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