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  • Writer's pictureAbu Dhabi Review

Artist trio bring immersive and surreal art to Abu Dhabi

The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery has opens its doors to its Spring 2022 exhibition titled Parthenogenesis: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian. Comprising several major new bodies of work, Parthenogenesis marks the artist trio’s first solo show at a UAE institution.

Ramin, Rokni, and Hesam, originally from Iran, have adopted the UAE as their home. They are known for their immersive, surreal projects, performances, paintings, and animations, which have exhibited internationally, at multiple biennials and major museums (including Liverpool, Sydney, and Toronto biennials, and Kunsthalle Zurich, ICA Boston, MACBA Barcelona, and a forthcoming project at the Hayward Gallery, London).

Speaking together about their practice, the artists said: “Our work is about generosity and celebration, to embrace other people as an answer to the challenges of the world in which we all live. In a way, this is about decentering yourself, allowing a hollowness to make space to appreciate others.”

The trio create a landscape in the Gallery that allows visitors to trace how an artwork grows itself through an artist’s relationships with others. Parthenogenesis is a testament to the artists’ 13 years in Dubai living and working together, creating a landscape and tapestry of continuously evolving ideas and dialogues with collaborators, artists, and visitors to their home, and offering a deeper insight into their practice rooted in ideas of transformation, play, and collaboration.

A close knit relationship

Their relationship to others plays a major part in this exhibition, which includes a “call and response” with a list of others with whom they work or respond to in this way, through poetry, video, and imagined architecture—always serving an inception (a parthenogenesis) of new artwork. The works in this exhibition were made with the participation of Homa Farley, Lamya Gargash, Nazli Ghassemi, Christopher Lord, Minnie McIntyre, Mohammed Rahis Mollah, Sara Saghari, Jaleh Shaditalab, and the refugees and asylum seekers of the Danish Red Cross project in Traveling with Art at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark). Their collaborators on several of the projects include Vahid Davar, Kiori Kawai, Mandana Mohit, and Pirouz Taji.

In 2014, Farah Al Qasimi photographed the artists’ studio for Art Asia Pacific. For this exhibition, the artists commissioned Lamya Gargash to photograph the same studio today. The filmmaker Sara Saghari documented their studio in the middle of the night, by flashlight, to offer an eerie portrait of the space. Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi posted a video tour of their 2012 exhibition on YouTube, and today some of the work from that exhibition is on view here, altered by the intervention of time, nature, and damage.

The artists invited Kiori Kawai to choreograph descriptions of the recent welded sculptures. In turn, the artists produce new sculptures by themselves enacting and replicating Kawai’s choreographies for Mohammed Rahis Mollah, a welder, who mimics it with metal form. The triangle of comprehension created between the welder, the artists, and the dancer relies on the movement of the body, on dance: mimetic origination, and finally, in the call and response between artwork and exhibition visitor, whatever form that may take.

Commenting on the exhibition, Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and University Chief Curator, Maya Allison said: “The word ‘parthenogenesis’ derives from biology and describes a beginning that has no cause. Still, art doesn’t live in a vacuum: it shapes, and is shaped by, multiple forces, as plays out in this exhibition. The artworks here manifest some of those forces for the artists since their adoption of Dubai as their home 13 years ago. The artists’ experience of war, expulsion, and culture shock simmer underneath their art production, rippling through images from the press, and ultimately expanding to include planetary and existential quandaries and delight—a surprising degree of delight.

Allison continued: “Today marks a very important milestone in The NYUAD Art Gallery’s chapter, and we are honored that the artists are working with us on their first institutional solo exhibition in the UAE. We look forward to welcoming our community to discover the radical rethinking of artistic practice by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian, who have found inspiration in their art community of the UAE. We are committed to championing this region’s artists and documenting the journey that led us to this moment, and these three artists are proof of the vibrancy that exists today as a direct result of the region’s rich heritage and the forces that shape each new artistic creation.”

In addition to the Spring exhibition, Allison is curating the National Pavilion UAE at the Biennale Arte 2022 in Venice, which opens to the public on April 23. Fall 2022, meanwhile, will see the launch of Khaleej Modern – the first comprehensive survey of Modern art in the Gulf, curated by Dr. Aisha Stoby, who is also curator of the first Oman Pavilion to the Venice Biennale 2022.

Parthenogenesis: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian is on until 12th June, 2022. Admission is free and you can find more information here.