Taking place from September 24 to December 21, the Fall 2023 Program responds to themes explored in the new exhibitions Nine Nodes of Non-Being and Asma Belhamar: Solid Void
Iranart: 421 Arts Campus, Abu Dhabi’s independent platform dedicated to supporting emerging creative practices, presents its Fall 2023 Program: Earthly Joys. Running from September 24 to December 21, this season features two major exhibitions and over twenty workshops, talks, and special events that explore the profound connection between humanity and nature. Opening on October 22 are Nine Nodes of Non-Being, a group exhibition curated by Ritika Biswas that is the result of the Curatorial Development Program, and Asma Belhamar: Solid Void, a solo exhibition by artist Asma Belhamar who is participating in the 2023 edition of the 421 Artistic Development Program.
Running in tandem with these exhibitions, the Fall 2023 program promises a diverse range of workshops, talks, and special events that empower and educate through collaborations with UAE-based artists, creatives, artisans, researchers, academics, and initiatives. The program features interactive environmentally-conscious workshops, guided nature walks, insightful talks and discussions with environmental experts, craft-based experiments that explore local materials, a film festival focused on climate-related works, home-cooking sessions, and other special events designed to preserve and celebrate our planet.
Curated, designed, and organized by participants in the 421 Internship and Mentorship Program, Ahmad Al Bissani, Salmah Almansoori, Sarrah Bashir, Keertana Cherukuri, Dana Husseino, and Zeina Saleh, the Fall 2023 program coincides with COP28, presenting a youth-led approach that fosters a deep connection with the environment. Earthly Joys is conceived as an invitation to connect, learn, and contribute to a brighter, more equitable future and a world where joy is synonymous with harmony in nature.
“Since our inception in 2015, we’ve made it our mission to champion and platform the voices of emerging artists and creatives in the UAE through our programming and initiatives. This season, we’ve pushed this even further, giving the 6th cohort from our Internship and Mentorship Program the opportunity to conceive and conceptualize the Fall 2023 program” said Faisal Al Hassan, Head of 421 Arts Campus. “Over the past few months, the 6th cohort of the Internship and Mentorship Program has been working closely with the team at 421 Arts Campus to put together an ambitious public program that critically engages with issues related to the climate crisis. They’ve designed an exciting seasonal program that brings youth, artists, creatives, researchers, academics, environmental experts, and the wider community together to reflect on environmental challenges in our region and the world at large. We are thrilled to present this program that aligns with the themes that will be explored during COP28.”
A detailed schedule of the Fall 2023 program is detailed below:
Asma Belhamar: Solid Void
Part of the Artistic Development Program
On view from October 22 to December 31, 2023
Asma Belhamar’s solo exhibition, Solid Void, is the result of the 421 Artistic Development Program. Featuring new works inspired by the UAE’s architectural history, the exhibition captures the tensions between shifting natural geographies and dynamic urban environments. The work is footnoted by the artist’s reflections on a culture and national identity in flux.
Solid Void narrates the topographic evolution of the UAE, as influenced by Western classical modernity, contemporary traditionalism in Islam, and the historic trade relationships that shaped much of that landscape. The artist's deft interpretation reveals the diversity and fragmentation of the design sensibilities that have made the nation’s aesthetic identity what it is today.
Solid Void is the result of the 2023 edition of the Artistic Development Program, which is organized in collaboration with The Institute for Emerging Art.
Nine Nodes of Non-Being
Curated by Ritika Biswas
On view from October 22 to December 31, 2023
Nine Nodes of Non-Being is a group exhibition presenting works by nine emerging and established artists, thinkers, filmmakers, and researchers from East, South, and Southeast Asia and the MENA region. It conceives of climate-related extinction through various states of negation and excess emerging from each of the nine artistic nodes in order to examine unknown ways of existing more equitably within our ongoing crises.
Climate data and science on human and non-human extinctions are evident, abundant, and available. However, few of us actually believe that we are going to become extinct, at least not in an immediate sense. The signifiers of this possibility are deaths and disasters that exist in other places and elsewhere, happening to species and communities we think of as vulnerable—not us.
This apathy stems not from a lack of knowledge but from our incapacity to critically and ontologically contend with what the climate crisis truly means for us. Simply unveiling the material facts of extinction is not enough to alter the realities of modernity and our ingrained behaviors or patterns of thinking.
Nine Nodes of Non-Being is not an attempt to represent the Anthropocene but rather conceives of non-being, and thus negation itself, as a creative and generative expanse. The artistic worlds presented here are not merely signifiers of extinction but real propositions about the unknown. The forms of excess and negation found within the work of the participating artists hold the simultaneity of muchness and blankness; the paradox of extinction itself; that we are both in the immense thick of it (muchness) and yet cannot conceive of it (a blankness). Through these excessive modes, we face ways of non-being and the climate apocalypse itself in ways we have likely never considered— through kitsch, cringe, bathos, abstraction, silliness, melancholy, madness, and the weird.
The artists taking part in this exhibition are Mariam AlZayani, Faycal Baghriche, Clemencia Echeverri, UNMAKE LAB, Irtiza Malik, Zara Mahmood, Amba Sayal-Bennet, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Ayman Zedani. Their projects span diverse media, including drawings, moving images, sculpture, text, soundscapes, and multimedia installations.
Nine Nodes of Non-Being is curated by Ritika Biswas and emerged from a year-long journey as part of the 421 Curatorial Development Exhibition Program in collaboration with The Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR).
Fall 2023 Program
September 24 until December 21, 2023
Jamming Session: Sudanese Flavors with Sarrah and Amat
Date: October 14, 2023
Time: 3 PM to 5 PM
The anticipated Jamming Sessions are back, and this time they bring mother-daughter duo Amat and Sarrah who will introduce us to famous Sudanese dishes, Salatat Dakwa and Foul Medames accompanied by the well-known hibiscus drink Karkadeh but with a twist. In Sudan, sharing a meal has historically and culturally been considered a symbol of peace and harmony between two parties.
Jamming Session: Ice Cream Alchemy with Anant and Rihab
Date: October 28, 2023
Time: 2 PM to 4 PM
The second Jamming session of the season will be with Anant and Rihab, Co-founders of Mina Creamery. Participants will learn about the UAE’s rich food heritage while making homemade, all-natural ice cream. Ingredients will include unique flavor combinations like orange cardamom and fresh ‘ruttab’.
Colorful Leaps with Early Starters
Dates: October 28, November 11, and December 9
Time: 4:30 PM - 6 PM
Colorful Leaps is back this fall! This series of workshops aims to introduce young audiences to inspirational figures in the creative industry of the UAE. This season, participants will be learning about how to take care of the environment in different ways through the arts with storytime sessions including craft-making inspired by the lessons learned. Storytime will be held in English and Arabic.
Film Festival Weekend with Cinema Akil
Dates: November 3 to November 5
Time: 7 PM - 11:30 PM
This season will also see a weekend celebrating regional films that explore the climate crisis. This expansive program includes film screenings, talks, workshops, activations, and family-friendly screenings too.
The three-day festival will present feature-length and short films in the narrative, documentary, and experimental genres, all of which focus on the environment as their central premise.
Panel discussions and Q&A sessions led by filmmakers and creatives will also take place, exploring topics inspired by the films screened throughout the program.
Children's film screenings will take place indoors and include snacks, drinks, and comfy bean bags.
Cli-Fi Short Films: Crafting your own Climatic Reality with Greener Screens
Dates: November 3, 2023
Time: 4 PM - 6:45 PM
Part of the Film Festival Weekend
During the Film Festival weekend filmmakers and scriptwriters are also invited to attend a workshop on creating films sustainably led by Greener Screens. Created only with a trusty smartphone and the surrounding environment. Cli-Fi Short Films: Crafting your own Climatic Reality, participants will be able to let their creativity run free and develop a cli-fi masterpiece of their own.
Foraging the Mina with Shereen Saif
Date: November 11, 2023
Time: 4 PM - 5:30 PM
Join performance artist Shereen Saif on a public walk and performance that explores Mina Zayed’s biodiverse ecosystem. In collaboration with experts, Saif will be presenting research and documentation that she has been undertaking in the area. This event is an open invitation to all creatives to help be a part of the documentation process.
The Culture Bus
The Culture Bus will return this fall to offer exciting tours across the UAE, including discounted rates on tickets and guided tours with a group of like-minded art enthusiasts.
The tours this season include:
Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design
Date: November 11, 2023
Sharjah Architecture Triennial
Date: November 12, 2023
Al Qattara Neighborhood Trip
Date: November 19, 2023
Down to Earth at Jameel Arts Center and Focal Point at Sharjah Art Foundation
Date: November 26, 2023
Check our website for more information.
The Material Library: Alternative Perspectives on Ecological Engagement
Dates: November 18, 2023
The Material Library is a one-day event that brings together UAE-based thinkers, creative practitioners, academics, and designers to present research around alternative and new ecological practices.
Through a program of talks, presentations, and workshops, the symposium resourceful ideas that challenge modern consumption patterns. Researchers, innovators, and creatives will present their explorations of diverse materials through scheduled talks and in a temporary display.
From unconventional approaches like crafting concrete from sand to the ingenious uses of waste materials for cultivating mushrooms, this event is a promise to broaden the way we think about the makings of everyday things. Workshops taking place during this symposium include Date Coffee-Making, Experimenting with Mycelium, and Bio-Tech Design. A detailed program schedule including a list of speakers and contributors will be announced on the website soon.
Designers’ Soirée: Autumn Hues
Date: November 19, 2023
Time: 6 PM - 9 PM
Our first-ever Designers’ Soiree will be led by designer and curator Ghassan Salameh and will feature contributions by other designers from the MENASA region. This event is dedicated to designers working across various disciplines to learn from each other and connect over food, music and art. The soiree is a gathering for like-minded creatives to celebrate the spirit of community.
Date: November 25, 2023
421 will launch a publication of Lina Ramadan’s research that is based on Bayan al-Madrasa al-Kristaliyya, (The Crystal Manifesto), which is a declaration published by the Crystalist School in 1976 in Khartoum, Sudan, by a group comprised of artists Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, Muhammad Hamid Shaddad, Naiyla al-Tayib, Hisham Abdallah, and Hashim Ibrahim, delivering aesthetic and philosophy commentary on themes such as time, knowledge, the measurement of space, language, and critiques modes of art-making within growing “universal” discourse.
Ramadan’s publication will present artistic interventions and essays by early-career and emerging artists and researchers from the MENSA region, and beyond who critically use image-making and text as means to understand possible ways of understanding ecological change. The experimental book aims to reflect on contemporary artistic tendencies and put notions such as land knowledge, environmental degradation, madness, and apocalypse(s) in dialogue. The contributors will take the Crystalist Manifesto as a point of departure and extend beyond it to examine how they articulate subjects related to the Anthropocene.
More information will be announced on the website soon.
Artist Toolkit: Strategies for Applying to Open Calls
Date: December 8 to 10, 2023
This in-person three-day course addresses the challenges artists and creative practitioners face when applying for open calls, grants, and other career opportunities. In the session, instructor Jolaine Frizzell introduces strategies on how to find and apply for the right opportunities for your career, and best practices when it comes to application writing.
The course includes contributions by industry professionals who will share insights into how application committees make decisions when deliberating on a grant or open-call panel.
The sessions will also touch on common application requirements, misconceptions, and effective approaches to a successful application.
Check 421’s website for more information.
Crafting Connections: An Artisanal Majlis
Date: December 9, 2023
Time: 1 PM - 7 PM
Join 421 for a day of workshops celebrating artisanal and traditional crafts. Organized in collaboration with UAE-based entities championing heritage crafts, this program features workshops that delve into creative practices deeply rooted in the UAE.
Participants will get the chance to meet local specialists in a majlis-style format to explore traditional and contemporary techniques that can be seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. The focus will be on methods and approaches from the past that can inform our future perspectives. Workshops taking place during this event include Henna-Making, Mudkhan-Making, Clay and Ceramics, and more.
A detailed program schedule will be announced on 421’s website soon.
Fragments of Mina: An Assemblage
Date: December 10, 2023
Locations: Mina Zayed and 421 Arts Campus
Time: 3 PM - 6 PM
This two-phase workshop first explores the urban spaces of Mina Zayed through guided walks that talk about preserving the area while collecting found objects. It then takes the participants back to the drawing board to create mixed media artworks. Through a fresh perspective (and some paint), participants will be able to experience and connect to Mina while taking home a special souvenir. This workshop will be led by the 421 interns.
Opportunities for Artists, Art Professionals, and Youth
Internship and Mentorship Program
Applications open on September 29, 2023
Application Deadline: October 27, 2023
The 421 Internship and Mentorship Program offers early career development support and professional preparation opportunities for emerging creative professionals from diverse backgrounds. The program supports the professional development of young practitioners through hands-on experience and training that paves the way for future career opportunities. The program takes place on-site and offers selected participants the opportunity to be immersed in a cultural center's operations across various departments with a targeted focus on a specific field.
The internship runs for six months, from January to June 2023. Five applicants will be accepted for this cycle of the program. This is a paid opportunity. Interns can choose to apply for the following departments: Administration and Project Management, Communications and Marketing, Learning Initiatives and Programs, Exhibition Design, Public Programs and Community Engagement, and Events and Operations.
Applications open on September 29
Studio Practice Application Deadline: October 17, 2023
Portfolio Critique Application Deadline: November 5, 2023
The 421 Teens Program is an educational initiative that is designed for UAE youth who are interested in pursuing a university-level arts program in the future.
The program prepares and supports high school students with the knowledge and skills required to successfully take on various creative disciplines in higher education and expands their broader understanding of creative industries.
421 Residency Program
Applications open on September 29, 2023
Application Deadline: December 3, 2023
Our applications are now open for the first cycle of the 421 Residency Program. The program will take place in space at our new artist studios.
The five-month program is accepting applications by artists based in the MENASA region. Residents will be offered a dedicated studio space throughout the duration of the program, as well as access to various resources, including mentorship, critique sessions, and opportunities to engage with the wider community through dedicated programming opportunities.
Applicants who are interested in applying to the above open calls can learn more by visiting 421’s website.
421 Arts Campus, is an independent arts platform dedicated to emerging artists and creative practitioners in the UAE and across the region. A site for research, learning, and experimentation, 421 provides a nurturing environment for emergent creative practices and those who want to harness the arts as an agent for social inquiry and transformation. 421 encourages practitioners to explore the potential of public spaces as a means for progress
421, located in Mina Zayed, is open from 10 am to 8 pm, Tuesday to Sunday.