Partnerships such as these he contextualized as an effort to tease out liberal progress from a conservative Islamic culture
Dubai, he said, is simply importing art and artists as a substitute for encouraging challenging local production, adding another facet to its sexy profile as seen from abroad
I took a chance after the Guggenheim talk to get Nabil’s thoughts on these issues and the role that has been cast for him in their midst. The very fact that such art could be displayed and discussed in the UAE was an advance in itself, he said. “Taboos” were being challenged. It struck me as an Orientalist narrative masked as respect for indigenous culture but really remarkably divorced from whatever might be going on in UAE society. Is everything Islam vs. secular, veiled vs. unveiled, “East vs. West”? Who do these false binaries benefit.
“I visited the Louvre (Abu Dhabi), the first body of work they acquired, and you see nudity, you see the body, it’s very present but at the same time it’s an Islamic country, so art has no taboo, so once you decide this is art and this is a museum we cannot limit it and think we cannot show that, because it’s part of life. So I think they reached a point where they are trying to say we are not less than the West, we do everything at the same level as the West, we have as important a museums as the West and we import art from everywhere in the region and they have the money to do it,” he said. “You effect societies when you show them art and you make their eyes look at art.”
“It’s a positive thing happening finally in the region in the middle of all the craziness,” Nabil said. “They graduated from universities from everywhere, they want to see their countries the same way they saw other countries in the West, so it’s like let’s do an art revolution, let’s show people art and change people’s perception and their judgement about things through art. 阅读更多