The show also offered the chance to see the Abu Dhabi Art’s annual Beyond: Emerging Artists presentation from 2020, which few visitors got to see in the flesh because of strict travel protocols in place in November in Abu Dhabi.
The show, curated by Maya El-Khalil, centred on the idea of memory, and drew from three female UAE artists: Afra Al Dhaheri, Hind Mezaina and Afra Al Suwaidi. Al Dhaheri’s central work is a tall sculpture made of rope, which defies its natural properties to stand rigidly straight, almost like a parody of a obelisk. Other work explores the properties of hair, and its ability to hold a shape, as if a memory of the object that held it.
Some note the connection to Hassan Sharif, who created a similar rope sculpture. Al Dhaheri has taken this lineage and inflected it with the personal, and specifically female, connotations of the medium: that hair must be braided to seem tidy, or that it must be covered in public – or the idea that long, thick locks are a source of feminine pride.