The Middle East Institute Arts and Culture Center is pleased to host an art talk with renowned visual and performance artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, whose work is featured in the exhibition Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE, currently on view at the MEI Art Gallery.
Abdulaziz will discuss her seminal work as the first female Arab artist to do public performance art in the Gulf, as well as her current performance-based work created in the United States. She will speak about the conceptual landscapes of living between these two spaces and how her overall body of work relates to her painting, Focal Illusion (see image above), currently on view at the MEI Art Gallery. Abdulaziz will be in conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Rauh, art historian of global modernism and contemporary art of Iran, Iraq, and the Islamic world.
Between the Sky and the Earth is curated by Abu Dhabi-based independent curator Munira al Sayegh, in partnership with The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. The exhibition brings together12 artists reflecting the diverse contemporary art ecosystem in the UAE today. Through themes such as the environment, consumerism, and the impact of rapid urbanization in the UAE, the artists reflect on their social, cultural, and natural landscapes and challenge standard narratives about the Emirates.
The event is part of the on-going programming around Between the Sky and the Earth, which runs until April 29, 2022. Please make a timed appointment to visit the gallery or check out the show online.
Ebtisam Abdulaziz is a multidisciplinary artist and writer. With a BA in Math and Science, Abdulaziz incorporates her unique perspective on mathematics and the structures of systems to explore issues of identity and culture through installations, performance pieces, video, paintings, and works on paper. Focal Illusion employs themes of Islamic geometry in its use of multiple layers and mathematical structures, and calls to mind muqarnas, the honeycomb-like structures found in mosques. Abdulaziz has been widely exhibited in the UAE and internationally. She was among the featured artists in the inaugural UAE and ADACH Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale, as well as at the 7th and 10th Sharjah Biennials. She has shown at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; the Kunst Museum, Bonn, Germany; FotoFest Biennial, Art in Houston, Texas; and The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa, Florida, among other museums.
Elizabeth Rauh is an art historian of global modern and contemporary arts of Iran, Iraq, and the Islamic world. Her work examines contemporary artist engagements with Islamic heritage, popular image practices and visual cultures in Shi`i Islam, and arts of the 1960s “Shi`i Left.” She also pursues research in ecological art practices in the history of the Persian Gulf, such as in her new article: “Experiments in Eden: Midcentury Artist Voyages into the Mesopotamian Marshlands” (2021), online mini-lecture “A Hot Wind Blows: Ecocritical Art in the Middle East” with Khamseen Islamic Art History Online, forthcoming article “Iridescent Modernism: The Troubling Artistic Legacy of Pearl Diving in the Arab Gulf” (2022) and her new exhibition project Iraq En Route: A Photographic Journey, 1952-1953 with the Cranbrook Institute’s Center for Collections and Research in Detroit (2022). She is Assistant Professor of Modern Art & Visual Cultures at the American University in Cairo and the 2021-2022 Art History Faculty-in-Residence at the Cleveland Institute of Art.