Predicated on curious desire to locate the spirit of experimentation that was present in the genesis of UAE avant-garde contemporary art practice, ‘Is Old Gold?’ indirectly questions if, how and why this narrative has been aborted, lost or evolved and if it can or should be recovered in the current context.
In a comparative experiment that takes the form of a fictional narrative, two artists from the contemporary ‘younger’ generation of Emirati artists were assigned to work separately on a ‘character’ from the ‘5 UAE’. The experimental, productive structure of the exhibition reflects on the atelier atmosphere of innovative exchange initiated by Hassan Sharif and transmuted and sustained by four of his students – Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Kazem, Abdullah Al Saadi and Hussain Sharif.
This hypothetical experimental structure, wryly reminiscent of a family tree, is the result of perceived dislocation between these generations and seeks to describe the qualities of this creative, methodological and pedagogical gap. ‘Is Old Gold’ posits that the gap has emerged due to disparate socio-political concerns, was opened by the UAE’s rapidly shifting contexts, or else is the result of other, more inherently personal, motivations and choices.
'Is Old Gold?' straddles this gap, presenting creative acts of remembrance and reconsideration alongside games of fantasy and, equally telling, utterly disconnected pieces that are the product of defiance or disengagement.
Curated by Cristiana de Marchi and Muhanad Ali, participating artists are: Hassan Sharif, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Taqwa Al Naqbi, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Maitha Abdalla, Amal Al Khaja, Mohammed Kazem, Jumairy, Moza Almatrooshi, Abdullah Al Saadi, Fatima Albudoor, Hind Mezaina, Hussain Sharif, Alaa Edris and Alia Lootah.