Art | April 13, 2024 |

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Image courtesy of Abdullah al Saadi

Abdullah Al Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia in the United Arab Emirates pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.
Venice, Italy
Avril 20 – November 24, 2024

The National Pavilion UAE (United Arab Emirates) announces its upcoming exhibition at the Biennale Arte 2024 titled Abdullah Al Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia. The exhibition will present eight artworks, produced by Emirati artist Abdullah Al Saadi, a conceptual art pioneer in the UAE, featuring his journeys into the wilderness. Curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh, currently Senior Curator and Director of the Performance Department of Sharjah Art Foundation, Abdullah al Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia proposes to look at his creative process in relation to the practices of Arab poets centuries ago. Al Saadi starts to draw, paint, or write during his journeys once he feels immersed in nature. Similarly, classical Arab poets described this immersion as the process leading up to the composition of their poems.

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Image courtesy of Abdullah al Saadi

This exhibition marks the National Pavilion UAE’s eighth participation at the Biennale Arte. The 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia will open to the public between 20 April – 24 November 2024. Visitors are invited to enter Al Saadi’s singular world and discover both the displayed art pieces and others hidden in metal chests. In a re-enactment of the artist’s ritual with visitors in his studio, a selection of the hidden artworks will be revealed by performers who are constantly present in the space. The chests store maps, stones, scrolls, and drawings that Al Saadi produced during his journeys and that he numbered, dated, and coded as if creating and preserving a collective memory for the future.

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Image courtesy of Abdullah al Saadi

His Excellency Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture, said, “As one of the world’s largest and most important contemporary visual art exhibitions the International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia is a significant platform for UAE’s homegrown talent to showcase their work on a global stage. By presenting UAE-based artists and architects at the forefront of international contemporary culture, the National Pavilion UAE has successfully driven global discourse around locally relevant issues through these exhibitions since 2009. We are proud of what our creatives have achieved over the years. Not only have they made a mark in the world of art highlighting the UAE’s growing role on the global art circuit, but have also played a key role in forging closer ties with other countries.” His Excellency continued: “Curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh, the exhibition will feature Emirati artist Abdullah Al Saadi’s artworks inspired by the UAE’s landscape, ancient national heritage and his own family history. We look forward to a thought-provoking exhibition inspiring global dialogue about contemporary issues.”

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Image courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Artist Abdullah Al Saadi said, “I draw inspiration from my environment during my various journeys. I always like to travel alone, with the company of a specific book, music, animal friends, or means of transportation. The presence of these travel companions has a significant impact on my artworks, as they accompany me during my exploration of the land and humankind’s place in it.”

Curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh said, “I am pleased to be working with Abdullah again and to discuss his work process in depth. I worked on the exhibition to show the persistent and diligent work he has been engaged in for over 40 years. The exhibition will be performative, summoning the atmosphere of Abdullah’s studio in a re-enactment of his rituals of archiving and showing his work to visitors. The exhibition design as well is inspired by his artworks. An accompanying publication will present a novel reading of his practice, which I hope will contribute new perspectives on the art practices in the UAE and the region.”


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Image courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

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