For this inaugural year, UAE-based artists were invited to submit proposals around the theme of ‘Memory, Time and Territory’, and a panel of international art experts selected seven artists to be shortlisted, who are awarded a cash prize.
Memory, time and territory are central ideas in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s universal narrative. Throughout the galleries we discover how memory plays an important role in shaping collective identity, opening a space for stories to be told, a place for individuals, communities, and societies to find meaning. The Louvre Abu Dhabi story begins in the prehistoric era and continues to the contemporary age, where time accelerates and space contracts. In today’s world, where past, present and future seem to co-exist, the relation between memory and territory has become more complex. These concerns are addressed by the artists selected for the first edition of Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here. Each explores the question of memory and belonging, the geography of identity, through their own personal engagement with particular territories. Living in the UAE, they are uniquely placed to respond to such questions. In its Jubilee year, the country celebrates an extraordinary development, occurring in half a century, from nomadic culture to globalised contemporary society. The geographical environment is marked by this transformation, resulting in the unique image of a rapidly expanding urban landscape set against the backdrop of a still, silent desert terrain. This sight, a constant reference point for life in the UAE, offers all residents a visual reminder of how the past persists in the present and how the present is permanently marked by a future under construction.
This exhibition and art prize shine a spotlight on the extraordinary contemporary art scene in the UAE, creating a new stage at Louvre Abu Dhabi for artists, giving them a platform to be seen and heard, and a space in which to express themselves and come together. It represents a further extension of the role of the museum as a repository for art works and objects celebrating the past but also as a space of interaction and exchange for contemporary art.