TCA Abu Dhabi concludes Guggenheim Abu Dhabi inaugural exhibition
After a successful period of five months, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) concluded the inaugural exhibition for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection at Manarat Al Saadiyat to a seamless end.
The exhibition, which closed last week, on the 26th of March, ran from the 5th of November 2014 and highlighted artworks by 19 international artists from the 1960s to today, all of which explore the theme of ‘light’. The exhibition welcomed more than 90,000 visitors.
Comprised of sixteen artworks from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection, as well as two key loans from its partner institution, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the exhibition presented five sections that examined the theme of “light” in various iterations: Perceptual, Reflected, Transcendent, Activated, and Celestial. Featured artists included Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Robert Irwin, Y.Z. Kami, Bharti Kher, Heinz Mack, Keith Sonnier, Yayoi Kusama, Otto Piene, and Doug Wheeler.
Maisa Al Qassimi, Programmes Manager, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, TCA Abu Dhabi, commented: “The success of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s pre-opening exhibition, Seeing Through Light, demonstrates the strong interest in contemporary art in the UAE. The exhibition was initially scheduled to close on the 19th of January but was extended to the 26th of March in response to the positive public reception it enjoyed. Artworks such as Yayoi Kusama’s interactive installation Infinity Mirrored Room–Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2011), captivated visitors and drew many back to the exhibition for multiple visits. The artworks presented created a social media sensation throughout and beyond the UAE, with thousands of visitors posting their selfies and short videos on various digital media channels.”
As part of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Talking Art Series, artists Angela Bulloch, Shirazeh Houshiary, and Rachid Koraïchi joined in a panel discussion held on November 3rd to share insight into their work and to discuss the role of light as a primary aesthetic element in their creative process.
The exhibition also hosted Artscape: An Evening of Light and Music on December 11th, which explored the nexus of light, art, music and technology. Inspired by the artworks presented in Seeing Through Light, the programme included dynamic light-themed activities, workshops, and live electronic music performances by Hassan Khan, a featured artist in the exhibition, Fatima Al Qadiri, and Shadi Megallaa.
Specially designed for the city of Abu Dhabi in conjunction with Seeing Through Light, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive installation Pulse Corniche (2014–15) was presented from January 8th to 17th 2015. Visible within a 15-kilometer radius, this site-specific public artwork transformed Abu Dhabi Corniche’s East Plaza into a canvas of light and movement controlled by visitors’ heart rates. Converting the heartbeats of participants into unique sequences of bright light beamed into the night sky by robotic searchlights, Pulse Corniche extended Seeing Through Light’s public engagement activity beyond Saadiyat Island, making Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and its initiatives more accessible to the public.
In addition, over 200 engaging and educational hands-on workshops and short art courses exploring the exhibition’s themes and concepts were specifically designed for children (aged 6 to 8), juniors (aged 9 to 12), teens (aged 13 to 16) and adults (aged 17 and over) and held at Manarat Al Saadiyat. The workshops culminated on March 12th with the Student Showcase Day, a public event hosted by TCA Abu Dhabi in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).
Fatima Ghazal, Education Workshops Officer at TCA Abu Dhabi commented: “The exciting series of workshops concluded with the Student Showcase Day, when 90 artworks made by 200 students from schools across the capital ranging from the ages of 11 to 15 were assembled in a unique art fair event. Seen together, the programmes and workshops presented alongside the Seeing Through Light exhibition created a platform that inspired a holistic audience experience and contributed to the unique cultural landscape of Abu Dhabi.”
Seeing through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection was curated by Susan Davidson, Senior Curator, Collections and Exhibitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, with Sasha Kalter-Wasserman, Assistant Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Maisa Al Qassimi, Programmes Manager, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.