The four artists in this exhibition have developed their practice in the UAE, establishing a strong regional track record, as well as an emerging international presence. They share a speculative practice, extrapolating imagined worlds within existing ones. This page is the archive of the exhibition, where you can find videos, images, documents, and publication downloads.
Read the essay
The four artists in this exhibition have developed their practice in the UAE, establishing a strong regional track record, as well as an emerging international presence. They share a speculative practice, extrapolating imagined worlds within existing ones.
Each installation offers an imaginary journey derived from the artists’ real-world observations of everyday life. In Raja’a Khalid’s performative installation, a.quiet.wave, she invited viewers to embrace personal well-being as a commodifiable trend, while Kaoud’s playground, Unknown Safety, kept visitors on high alert to ever-present risk. In two very different landscape installations, Between Muddles and Tangles, and_ A Comma, In Arabic_, Zedani and Jumairy each proposed worlds in which our natural bodies and the landscape around us manifest biological or artificial intelligence.
The exhibition was commissioned and curated by Maya Allison (NYUAD Chief Curator, and Galleries Executive Director). She writes:
Looking back on this exhibition, even though it is very recent, I see that it captured the nascent anxieties that have emerged so strongly during the COVID-19 pandemic. These artists capture something unique and interconnected in their take on our environment, one that already feels incredibly prescient both in how they respond to our surroundings, and how they connect to the art scene here.
For me this exhibition was an opportunity to consider the UAE art scene from the future’s perspective — these artists are already an important part of what will become the UAE’s contemporary art history. There has been an apparently fast rise of contemporary art in the UAE that matches the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the country since its founding in 1971. The art community, of course, has always existed, but began to create a very proactive grass-roots scene starting in the 1980s and 90s. That first generation’s activity was largely un-known by their international peers beyond the Gulf until around 2009, when the now-acclaimed Hassan Sharif came to the attention of major international curators. By then, the UAE’s Sharjah Art Biennial had long since become a highly-influential leader, while Dubai saw the growth of the commercial gallery sector with the pivotal Art Dubai fair, followed by the launch of a series of international museum projects in Abu Dhabi.
These three emirates (Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi) host what has evolved into a diverse art ecology. Still, few international audiences are aware of the rising generation of contemporary artists living and working in the UAE. The community today, as much as ever, come from a mix of international backgrounds, and very often their work is in dialogue with both where we are, and the many cultures that converge in the UAE. This exhibition and its archive, will, I hope, offer a rare lens onto one specific recurring theme that I’ve observed in this emergent scene, a theme that these four artists in particular express through their distinctly arch, speculative, conceptual practices.
- PDF of Exhibition Brochure: Speculative Landscapes [7.5 MB]
- PDF of Youth Guide: Speculative Landscapes [2.1 MB]
- PDF of Youth Guide Sticker Book: Speculative Landscapes [6.3 MB]
- Reading Room Bibliography: Speculative Landscapes [196 KB]
- Press Release: Speculative Landscapes [394 KB]
- Press Release Announcing Speculative Landscapes [1.4 MB]
(b. 1987, Sharjah, UAE, lives and works Dubai and Sharjah, UAE)
Kaoud is a Palestinian conceptual artist who grew up between Montreal, Canada, and the UAE. She earned her MFA in Studio at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2011, as well as an MFA in Curating at Goldsmiths College in 2013. Her art practice draws on her interest in narratives and disastrous scenarios.Read more
Emergency provisions are a common subject in her work creating ambitious multi-media installations inviting the viewer to question the relationship between our bodies and politics. Kaoud’s projects articulate the distance between anxiety, preparedness, and the humour which takes place in preparing for non-immediate threats. Her ironic work puts us face to face with our anxiety-driven world that can sometimes present frightening resemblances to a dystopia.
Kaoud participated in numerous residencies including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, Changdong (2017, Seoul, KR), the International Studio and Curatorial Program (2017, New York, USA), Delfina Foundation (2016, London, UK) and A.i.R Dubai (2015-16, Dubai, UAE). Her work has been presented in several group exhibitions regionally and internationally such as the Tate Modern Tate Exchange (2018, London, UK), Jean-Paul Najar Foundation (2018, Dubai, UAE), Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea (2017, Seoul, South Korea), The Hangar (2017, Beirut, Lebanon), Supa Salon (2017, Istanbul, Turkey), The Bolivia Biennial (2016, Santa Cruz, Bolivia), Nomas Foundation (2013, Rome, Italy), and Propeller Gallery (2009, Toronto, Canada). February 2020 Kaoud had her first solo exhibition at indigo+madder gallery in London UK.
Kaoud is currently working as copy editor and writer. She lives and works between Dubai, UAE, and London UK.
(b. 1984, Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia, lives and works in Sharjah, UAE)
Ayman Zedani’s practice manifests between objects and multi-layered installations and attempts to renegotiate the relationship between human and non-human, animal and plant, organic and inorganic, land and water.Read more
His conceptual works are built on a series of experiments and investigations that look towards new materialist philosophies exploring the agency of matter, and consider multi-species collaboration as ways of surviving the challenges of the Anthropocene – deliberating upon human influence on the state, dynamic, and future of the Earth.
Zedani’s recent projects include Between the Heavens and the Earth, Lahore Biennial, Lahore (2020);_ the return of the old ones, 21’39_, Jeddah (2020); Between muddles and tangles, NYUAD Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi (2019); non-human-assembly, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2018); Khamsa, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2018). He won the inaugural Ithra Art Prize and presented a new project in Art Dubai (2018) and had his debut solo show titled bahar-bashar-shajar-hajar, curated by Murtaza Vali, in Athr Gallery, Jeddah (2019).
(b. 1992, Dubai, UAE)
Jumairy experiments with sound, film, digital technologies, and performance to create immersive worlds. With these sensory experiences, the artist occupies and transforms spaces into provocations that usher viewers from their present time and place into imagined realms.Read more
What the artist thinks of as “Jumairy’s world” is an evolving and expansive space mapped through performative acts, scientific experiments and mysterious rituals taking place on stage, across the big screen, and within smartphone apps. The same prismatic approach structures his music, in which he intertwines Arabic electro-pop with the discordant soundscape of industrial music. Through these, the “Jumairy world” evolves, becoming a conduit through which the artist explores psychological questions and processes traumas, both personal and collective.
Jumairy’s work has been presented through residencies and exhibitions across the region and internationally. He was commissioned for the inaugural ‘UAE Unlimited’ exhibition A Public Privacy (2015) and Is Old Gold? (2017), both at DUCTAC in Dubai. In 2015/16 he participated in the Art Dubai A.i.R. programme in collaboration with Delfina Foundation and Tashkeel, which culminated in an installation and performance work at the Art Dubai fair. A residency with Maraya Arts Centre resulted in BRZ5, his first solo exhibition in Milan, Italy organised by FARE Arte. His work has been collected and supported by Barjeel Art Fundation and Maraya Art Centre as well as being acquired by private collectors.
(b. 1984, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, lives and works Dubai, UAE)
Khalid is an artist of South Asian descent based in Dubai. She received her MFA from Cornell University in 2013. Khalid’s work has been exhibited in regional solo exhibitions at Tashkeel (2017, Dubai, UAE) and Grey Noise (2016, Dubai, UAE).Read more
Selected group exhibition participation includes ARCO Madrid (2018, Madrid, Spain), the 6th Edition of Athens Biennale (2018, Athens, Greece) Art Jameel (2018, Dubai, UAE), VITRINE (2016, Basel, Switzerland). She has been a resident at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (2015, New York, USA), Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (2015, Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen (2015, Innsbruck, Austria). She will be joining the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, Netherlands) for a year-long residency in September 2019.
Khalid’s work has been exhibited in regional solo exhibitions at Tashkeel (2017, Dubai, UAE) and Grey Noise (2016, Dubai, UAE). Selected group exhibition participation includes ARCO Madrid (2018, Madrid, Spain), the 6th Edition of Athens Biennale (2018, Athens, Greece) Art Jameel (2018, Dubai, UAE), VITRINE (2016, Basel, Switzerland). She has been a resident at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (2015, New York, USA), Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (2015, Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen (2015, Innsbruck, Austria). She joined the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, Netherlands) for a year long residency in September 2019.