Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Art Here - 2nd edition

There is a new temporary exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Forum, the 2nd edition of the Art Here, Richard Mille Art Prize exhibition. This edition called on GCC national and residents to take part, and 10 artists were shortlisted, working in different media - all engaging with the notions of 'Icon and Iconic'. The winner of the Art Prize will be announced in the new year, as the exhibition of the participants run until February.

This year, the whole space even above the Forum is used in a very innovative way. The first art work is showcased already in the stairs going down into the basement, Between Desert Seas by Ayman Zedani, from Saudi Arabia. Can you spot it?

This is in fact an immersive multi-layered sonic experience. It's highlighting the human-non human relationship, especially in the seas surrounding the Arabian peninsula, through audio recordings of the humpback whales. This work is addressing climate changes and the recent environmental human disturbances that have caused the amount of whales to diminish.


The next artwork was completed here on site, just days before the inauguration of the exhibition! It's Break the Atom and Vegetal Forms (After Zeid), by Simrin Mehra Agarwal from India.

She takes inspiration from being a diver and a marine researcher, and she is really interested in war vessels that are buried in the sea and the new marine life that is created in them. It’s a multi-layered artwork both in form and meaning. 

This next one fascinated me, and I must admit, until I read the label properly I thought it was a typo, as it's called Camoulflage: The Fourth Pillar. It's by Zeinab Alhashemi, an artist from the UAE.
This is symbolising the transformation and the urbanisation of the UAE. You can see here the mix between the top half, the mesh and the camel hides: it’s half natural and half artificial. Alhashemi has done several of these artworks, always adjusted to the place where she exhibits, for example she has done another one in Egypt in the shape of an obelisk.

This is Weighing the Line by a local artist from Abu Dhabi, Afra Al Dhaheri.

Al Dhaheri reflects on hair, here represented by the ropes, as an important marker for social norms. She also lets the ropes symbolise invisible boundaries, and the knots and the tension of the ropes represent the struggle we might face trying to untangle societal rules.

Sidelines by Manal AlDowayan, from Saudi Arabia. This artist often includes handicrafts in her works, such as this one, which is inspired by the traditional weaving, and Sadu, of the Bedouin women. This work wants to put the spotlight back on these women, who lived through the modernisation of their country and in that got pushed from the center to the sidelines of their communities.

This next installation is site-specific, and it's called Standing by the Ruins and it's by Dana Awartani from Saudi Arabia. It is constructed to look like the traditional floors you find all over the Middle East, made up of geometric forms. The artist have not tempered the tiles, so this work will eventually crack, deteriorate and maybe even crumble completely during the course of the exhibition.

My favourite I think, are all these figures that make up Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings. It's an ongoing artwork by Rand Abdul Jabbar. Originally she is from Iraq but she lives in the UAE.
All these different pieces in clay are separately embodying a different heritage, while they are all collectively in dialogue with each other. The artist takes inspiration from other museum pieces, mostly using forms that draw on Mesopotamian mythology and figuration.

Here's an artwork by a Brazilian artist called Elizabeth Dorazio, Xylophone. She has recycled pieces of wood, from different objects that have been discarded. Now she is bringing the material itself back to life by using it in this artwork, and she shows us that even though us humans can be extremely destructive, the laws of nature are still the strongest.

A Still Life of an Ever-changing Crop Field, by Shaikha Al Mazrou, from UAE. This is an artist really interested in minimalist and conceptual art, here taking the desert as an inspiration showcasing crop circles; and how these non-native shapes to the land of the UAE now fits into the landscape. 

I had the pleasure of meeting the artist of this piece, Vikram Divecha who is from Lebanon, but lives here in Abu Dhabi, the other week. He has created this piece Wall House which is a vision of a passion project of his. He is planning to extract walls from buildings that are getting demolished across the globe, something that proposes an "archiving of the present". The artwork also shows a movie from the very first extraction, of a wall saved from here in Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

1 December

This morning I got up early enough before work to have a nice moment with my coffee, and my Advent calendar. Where as Linnea got a more traditional Funky Pop vinyl calendar with a Harry Potter theme, I got myself an Art & Litterature-calendar this year.

24 different authors, poets and artists have contributed to this calendar, to give you a little cultural boost every day. I got it a while back through a friend, and was really excited to get it started. Now where is that letter opener..?

The first "door" was a short novel by Saadeldin Ibrahim, a good start. Already looking forward to tomorrow!

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Why I love Abu Dhabi

We got really well received by our friends in the community. Peta came over already our first night, with some beautiful flowers and a bottle of bubbly. My friend Lina who lives on the 12th floor in the same building came with lingonberry jam, a bottle of wine and a home made saffron cake, mmm! And the other day I found this just outside the door..!

A welcome greeting and another bottle of bubbly, from Michaela and her family.
Only in Abu Dhabi, can you just leave a bottle of bubbly (or any kind of delivery or parcel) by someones door, without it being pinched by by-passers!

Georgia 5

We knew Al Zeina pretty well before moving in here, as many of our friends have lived here throughout the years, in different blocks, apartments and townhouses; some are even still here, luckily.

Over the weekend, Linnea and I had time to join in on a 5th birthday party for our little friend Georgia. Peta & Brownys eldest celebrated her big day down at the beach here in Al Zeina, with all her mates, yummy party food, water guns, a piñata - and a magnificent Moana-cake!


We could only stay for a little bit as we were heading out to the Lion King, but really nice to be a part of a community again, and to have friends at walking distance!

Our community

The community we have moved into is one of the larges ones in Abu Dhabi, Al Zeina. It was built in 2010 and the complex comprises of both high-rises that house apartments and sky villas, as well as villas and townhouses in front of these high-rises. In total there are over 1200 units.

The apartments are separated into six blocks, A, B, C, D, E and F-block; and they come in a bunch of different sizes and layouts. Ours is what they call a 4-bedroom duplex, over two floors.
We had luck with our allocated parking spots in the basement. They are only about 75 m away from the elevator, next to each other and best of all, easy to get in and out of even with Nathan's big truck.

The compound is L-shaped and gated. On the inside there is a private beach with a café, parks, a library, a playground, and each block have a gym and a pool, where you are allowed to use either. On the outside there is also a Waitrose supermarket, a bottle shop and other shops and restaurants. Our F-block pool is considered to be the nicest one of them all, with views over Yas Island. It's just at the end of the walkway here:

The only downside is that our building is situated right under the flight path out of the airport, so at times it can be a little bit noisy when the planes are heavy and climb slowly. I actually don't mind though, I have slept through without problem. I guess the ones living on the higher floors are more disturbed by it.
This is us, and our three balconies:

Al Zeina is situated on Al Raha Beach, which means that it is connected to the other communities along the long stretch of development here. So not only is this a large community to walk around, but you can also walk along and across the canals for about 11 kilometers, since all the different areas are connected. 

It's really the perfect time of the year we have moved in here! We are really looking forward to enjoying the outdoors, the pool, the beach, the walks... - one day when we are not working...

Abu Dhabi Art 2022

During these past few weeks of moving insanity we had to cancel quite a few things because of lack of time, since we really had to prioritize the move. We were invited to a F1-party and I was supposed to go see Swedish House Mafia at one of the F1-concerts. We also had an invite to a house warming party, and so on.
Although the one thing I didn't want to miss was the Abu Dhabi Art that also happened this month, the same weekend as F1, and only for four days. Yes, I told you November is crazy!

Kathleen and I decided to go one evening after work. We were really excited as we had met several of the exhibitors and gallerists at work, giving them tours of our exhibitions at the Louvre Abu Dhabi; but also because we have been to this event before and it is always super inspiring.

As we came late at night, it was full, full, full of people. Again, at every event I can't help but just take in just how nice it is to be back to normal again, and see people! How we have missed it! Will really try not to take it for given again.

This years edition of Abu Dhabi Art had more than 80 galleries from 28 different countries representing over 300 artists, with some 900+ artworks.
Here is a bit of a photo dump!

We are starting with mirror paintings by Michelangelo Pistoletto. A type of artworks we are well familiar with now thanks to the ones we currently have at the museum.

The following one I forgot to snap the info about, but it is made by the same artists that has made the golden calligraphy sculpture at the Presidential Palace, Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej:

Togetherness, 2022.
Ngozi-Omeje Ezema, Nigeria.

Oasis Auberge Dans Le Désert, 2017-2020.
Adel Abdessemed, Algeria.

From the series Lachrymatoires Bleues - Blue Lachrymatory Vases (ii), 2020.
Rachid Koraïchi.

T1975-H41, 1975.
Hans Hartung, Germany. This really surprised me, as we have had a Hartung painting at the museum, and it looked nothing like this one. I must look deeper into his work.

Untitled, 2021.
Takashi Murakami, Japan. Motives we recognise from the new sculptures down Yas Bay.

The Knot of Imaginary, 2021.
Jean-Michel Othoniel, France.

Desert Spring, 2022.
Antonio Santin. This was absolutely fascinating, not a real carpet, not pearls - it is a painting!

Eternal Flame. Yongrae Kwon.

The Standard Head, 2020.
Trevor Paglen, UK. This reminded me of the big sculpture we saw at the Pilane Sculpture Park in 2020.

And my favourite photo from the evening, one that Kathleen took:

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

National Day at RIS 2022

National Day this year falls this Friday, and as the kids are off school Thursday and Friday to celebrate it, they had organised for National Day celebrations at school yesterday. All the kids were urged to dress in the national colours, which suited Linnea who had just got herself new white trousers and new black and white school shoes in the Black Friday sale last week.

Parents were invited to come join in the afternoon, so Linda and I took a quick walk around the school yard to have a look just before pick-up. They always put a lot of effort into the decorations, there was so many balloons, flags and streamers all over school - nice!

It is really, really great to have events going on again, finally without masks and other restrictions. It is such a joy to see people enjoy themselves, life is back!

Our new home

One week ago we moved into our new home. I guess it's time for a little house tour, even though everything is not quite done yet - but as I'm going to let Christmas explode, I thought I'd take a few photos before that!
There are still cables that need to be hidden, and certain other things that need to find a home. At least furniture is all mounted, all curtains are up, and most of the picture frames and decorations as well. Some other things we need to get a "feel" for before we can decide where they go.

But here we go, this is what you see when you enter the door. The hallway still needs a rug, but I'm on a lookout for a second hand one to try save some money at least in this move...

To the right we have the living area, with both the TV area and the dining area in one big room.

We have a large balcony running along the whole room, where we are planning to get some sofas or comfy armchairs. We bought new blinds for these windows, but they came in the wrong design so waiting for them to fix it and bring back the right colour.

We want to be able to sit out on this balcony in the good weather season and enjoy a coffee in the morning, or a drink late in the afternoon. We would have afternoon sun in the left corner where we are planning to place some furniture, so that's quite good.

The kitchen is fairly small, but there is a large storage room just to the left of it, so it works. We store a lot of things in there.

The biggest issue with the kitchen is the lack of bench and work space really. But I like that it's open plan, and it's light and bright thanks to it being connected to the big room with the big windows.

In the storage we have the drinks fridge, the ice machine, some pantry items, all the bulky kitchen appliances, the washing machine, cleaning supplies and more.

If you walk left from the entrance there is another small storage room (which is in fact supposed to be the maids room), where we keep more shoes, our sports equipment and other things. Next to that is the guest toilet.

Then on the right in the next photo there is a full bathroom, which we are not going to use as such as it belongs to the downstairs bedroom, which we have made into an office.

Both Nathan and I have our desks down here, together with a reading chair, and all my lovely art books! This room also has a balcony, but I don't think we will furnish that one. At least not as a first priority.

On the second floor we have three bedrooms. Linnea's room, the guest room, and the master bedroom; with another balcony. Although I can't really see us using this balcony at all.

The master bedroom has a huge bathroom with two sinks, and a super sized bath tub. The toilet and the shower are in separate spaces.

The master also has a dressing room! I never knew how much I wanted a dressing room! Oh, it's lovely! Makes it easier to get dressed in the morning without disturbing the other person if still asleep.

The middle bedroom is going to be the guest room, which I will not show you just yet, as that's where all the mess that is not unpacked is currently hidden away, ha ha. Work in progress. Lucas - I promise it will be all done for when you get here..!

Then there is Linnea's room, which is only about half the size of her previous room. So she had to scale down on furniture as not much fits here, now she only has her bed, her desk and a bookshelf. But she loves it because both her wardrobes and her bathroom is much bigger than her old one. And - she has the best view, straight onto the sea view.

Finally there is also a big landing area on the 2nd floor, which we are making into a combined training area and hang out place. Yes, there is a gym in our building, so this will mostly be for Nathan and his bike setup. This too is still very much under construction, so stand by for more photos once it's sorted.
That's it for now!