Abu Dhabi Art announces Guest Curators and Commissioned Artists for 2021

Abu Dhabi Art announces Guest Curators and Commissioned Artists for 2021

Abu Dhabi Art announces Guest Curators and Commissioned Artists for 2021

ABU DHABI, 29th September, 2021 – Abu Dhabi Art has announced the names of guest curators and commissioned artists for the 13th edition of its fair which will take place from 17th to 21st November, at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

The list includes Simon Njami and Rose Lejeune who will be the guest curators, while commissioned works by artists Aya Haidar, Hazem Harb, Dr.

Najat Makki, Rasheed Araeen and Richard Atugonza will be included in the Beyond: Artist Commissions programme.

Alongside these works, additional works by exhibiting artists including, Alfredo Jaar represented by Giorgio Persano Gallery (Turin), Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, represented by Green Art Gallery (Dubai), Siah Armajani represented by Rossi & Rossi (London, Hong Kong), and Zineb Sedira represented by The Third Line (Dubai), will also be featured as part of Abu Dhabi Art’s special installation sector, In & Around.

Each year, distinguished guest curators work closely with a number of galleries exhibiting at the fair to present curated gallery sectors and programmes.

This year, Njami’s gallery sector will draw connections between artists through the language of music, while Lejeune will bring together a new performance art programme.

The Beyond: Artist Commissions programme was launched in 2017 to present new, site-specific public installations by established artists in public spaces across the emirate.

This year’s programme is the most ambitious to date, with works being shown in historic and cultural sites throughout the capital.

Beyond: Artist Commissions will launch during the fair and remain open for three months as part of Abu Dhabi Art’s year-round programming.

Each year, the fair also features In & Around, with distributed spaces throughout the fair venue for galleries to show large-scale installations outside their booth space.

Commenting on the event, Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art, said, “We are delighted to be able to bring a physical experience to our visitors this year.

It was important to enable our guest curators to bring their exhibitions and research into material form at the fair this year, to enable gallery exhibitors to once again connect first-hand with our audience and show their works in real life as well as to commission new artists to create site-specific works for the emirate.

Across all these initiatives rests an abiding emphasis on a diverse and accessible public engagement programme, on offering an important meeting point for international and local artists and galleries and on supporting the local art ecosystem through our flagship event in November.


For the fair’s first ever digital edition in 2020, Njami curated ‘The Day After’, dedicated to contemporary art from across the African continent, in an online format only.

This year, Njami will spotlight selected artists and galleries under a new curatorial framework, Kind of Blue.

The title of the exhibition references an album by Miles Davis, with Njami positioning jazz music as a metaphor for the open-ended parameters of the exhibition.

Kind of Blue likens galleries to orchestras, each presenting musicians who together create a collective project that is wider than their singular expression.

Kind of Blue references the improvisation harnessed by the creation of jazz music as a means to create an exploratory space and dialogue for these artworks to be understood together.

Njami will be presenting his curatorial vision at the fair, giving audiences the opportunity to explore and experience this dynamic position first-hand in November.

“I am always interested in showcasing African contemporary art and for this year’s edition of Abu Dhabi Art, the African artists I selected have unique techniques and ways of addressing contemporary issues,” said Njami.

“They also come from various locations not just mainland Africa.

Kind of Blue is based on a masterpiece album by jazz legend, Miles Davis.

I have chosen jazz music as a metaphor for the gathering of the galleries I have invited to take part in this edition of the fair because, in my eyes, jazz is the best representation of what is at stake with ‘African Contemporary Art’.


“I am interested in bringing my theories and vision to Abu Dhabi to initiate a new dialogue here, as I feel that there is a cultural gap between the Middle East and Africa.

Abu Dhabi can play a role in bridging this gap.


Lejeune, curator of the fair’s public Performing Arts Programme in 2020, is also returning for the 2021 edition with a diverse line up of performances across different locations in Abu Dhabi.

Lejeune will be commissioning four artists including, Louise Hervé and Clovis Maillet, French artists who explore projections of the future and anthropological knowledge through the language of performance and film; Mays Albaik, a Palestinian interdisciplinary visual artist interweaving poetry, socio-politics and geography; Rand Abdul Jabbar, an Abu Dhabi-based Iraqi multi-disciplinary artist whose socially engaged works intersect architecture and visual arts; and Moscow-based Taus Makhacheva, whose Dagestan cultural origins inform her installation and performance art practice.

Each commissioned artist will select a site for a live performance in different locations around Abu Dhabi and at the fair with the aim of offering an abstract and poetic experience of different sculptural landmarks and sceneries around the city.

Lejeune said, “I am delighted to be invited to curate performance at Abu Dhabi Art again this year.

Having worked within the ‘ever live’ of the digital space in 2020, my 2021 programme will place audiences back in the temporal and physical space of the artists’ work; exploring the transformative power of storytelling to create a series of journeys through histories, memories and fictions – both at the fair and throughout the city itself.

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