The National Pavilion UAE (United Arab Emirates) at the Venice Biennale 2024 announces its upcoming exhibition titled Abdullah Al Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia, curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh. 


The solo exhibition will present artworks produced by Emirati artist Abdullah Al Saadi, a conceptual art pioneer in the UAE. Abdullah Al Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia invites visitors to enter Al Saadi’s singular world, featuring eight bodies of works produced during his journeys in the wilderness. 


The exhibition 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. 


Visitors are invited to move along a path discovering 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 concealed works will be revealed by performers, who are constantly present in the space. They will interact with visitors, telling them stories and giving them clues about the artist’s journeys and the collective memory that Al Saadi summons into the present, and meticulously preserves for the future.


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”.


This exhibition marks the National Pavilion UAE’s eighth participation at the Venice Biennale.


The 60th International Venice Biennale will open to the public in Venice, Italy on April 20 and runs until November 24, 2024. 

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