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Press Release

Portrait of a Nation II: Beyond Narratives, the jewel of Abu Dhabi Festival 2022, has come to a close but the story of the nation’s artistic development as it transpired over 50 years lives on through the innovative launch of the virtual exhibition and its book companion, Portrait of a Nation II: Beyond Narratives.

Now visitors around the world can embark on an immersive journey through the exhibition, which ran for three months from 21 January to 16 April at Manarat Al Saadiyat, exploring over 100 key artworks by 62 of the nation’s pioneering and emerging artists while interactively navigating the five themes of the exhibition: Reclaiming/Reimagining Home, Shifting Landscapes, Configurations of Togetherness, Reclaiming/Reimagining Language and Shifting Sociality.

The exhibition’s book companion, Portrait of a Nation II, documents the creative spirit and collaboration of the featured artists and their works in vibrant photography and in-depth interviews and essays from curators, writers, and the talented artists themselves, guiding readers through the remarkable transformation of the UAE’s art history.


“This commission presents a rooted tangent from my explored narrative and research. A form of confronting and enduring the weight and wait of weaving braids. Another negotiation with the material to shape it at a scale that makes it dif cult to develop the form. Furthering my examination of hair as a container of time and memory thus allowing hair to be an expressive language through its form and state. Arriving at a moment where both time and space are contained, time was suddenly granted back to me at a pace much slower than that experienced before - a pace that made me nostalgic and reminiscent of the 90’s. A pace that challenged myself further to investigate time consuming processes, allowing me to dive into the narrative of hair, exploring hair as a medium and meaning within the medium.”

- Afra Al Dhaheri

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