The UAE Pavilion finds itself in a position to answer the kind of demands and curiosities that no other nation that emerged on the art scene in the 20th century has to. Some of the reasons are too obvious to infer such as neo-orientalism and the lure of money, but others are much more cunning. What is important is to remember there have been great times in the Arab world and the Gulf region. But, there has been profound disappointments too.
It is a time for sobering up. A number of years ago, the UAE had to grapple with the effects of an aggressive vertical urbanization. The discussions were about the number of construction cranes and grand projects. Those who come from slower contexts seemed both to envy and ridicule the transformation, as the place became an intoxicating experiment for writers on urbanism. It was clear that the artists of the young UAE were supposed to chronicle and address the transformation, effectively within representational practices and perform the role.
"Second Time Around" does not treat the exhibition as a curatorial conceit. It is primarily about three positions: one obstinate artist who does not care one way or another if he is in any exhibition as long as he is able to work in his own precise way; a very young artist whose installation speaks to the UAE in the most novel way probable; and one artist who has assimilated, and dehypostatized the transformation of her environs. The exhibition does not offer totalizing claims or weak sociology. It is 'curated' around three artistic positions set in same-size spaces that are actual islands on their own.
Text: Vasif Kortun, curator
Selva Gürdoğan, Gregers Tang Thomsen, Tobias Benjamin Bosse, Mustafa Bulgur, Zoltán Dávid Kalászi, Marta Marszal, Matthias Poen
Type: Exhibition Design
Size: 700 m2
Client: UAE Venice Biennale Pavilion
Location: Venice, Italy