A partnership between Aisha Alabbar Gallery, Engage101 and Bayt AlMamzar, Roundtables is a discussion series between practitioners in the UAE’s arts ecosystem.
The aim of the series is to produce analytical documentation of key issues in the form of reports available as an open resource and to define the ecosystem by the voices within it.
Artist, Curator, Writer, Student, Gallerist were some of the titles the participating individuals ascribed to themselves on this roundtable, they discussed what titles meant to them and some of the issues the UAE arts ecosystem faces due to the structural hierarchy titles exist within.
Zuhoor Al Sayegh discusses ‘Sadu’ weaving as a way to reroute feminism from a western stand point to a regional one. She assesses the technical aspects of Sadu weaving, the importance of mobility and the institutional role in safeguarding craft while drawing on de-colonial and post-colonial feminist theory.
Aisha AlAhmadi attempts to deconstruct subconsciously internalized and inherited colonial ideologies through reclamation of identity pegged in contemporary art. AlAhmadi canonizes three female artists from the United Arab Emirates, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Dr. Najat Maki, and Nujoom Al Ghanem to explore language, culture, and perceptions of a post-colonial self.
Here Khalid Abdulla looks at the contemporary social role of collections in the Gulf. He analyzes how collections become modes for addressing and building identity, through the construct of art as a soft power. Abdulla highlights how and why “the object” is important when understanding historical constructs whilst enunciating that a collection becomes a direct reflection of the importance of its holder.
Aliyah Alawadi looks at the thematic role of nostalgia in contemporary art practice in the United Arab Emirates from the lens of various highlighted artists. Alawadi contemplates the tension and responsibility of documenting the emotional changes through nostalgia in an attempt to dissect social changes in conjunction with the rapid changes the country has gone through. Through nostalgia she suggests an anthropological mapping of community, and culture in the act of romanticizing the past.
Noora Al Balushi unpacks the political identity composed around the term ‘Khaleeji’, deconstructing the cultural understanding of this word through the lens of popular music and contemporary art. Here she challenges perception and stereotypes through the proposal of a transformative cultural and political identity.