Abu Dhabi Art is pleased to announce that Dr. Omar Kholeif, author, curator, broadcaster, and cultural historian, has curated My Life in the Metaverse, the fair’s 2022 Gateway exhibition, which will be on display at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 16 November 2022 to 22 January 2023.
Dr. Kholeif is among many things, the Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation and was previously a guest curator for Abu Dhabi Art’s gallery section “Focus” for three years, from 2017-2019. Dr. Kholeif is returning to Abu Dhabi Art with an expansive Gateway exhibition, exploring the history and aesthetics found in our all-encompassing digital culture.
Abu Dhabi Art is thrilled to welcome back Dr. Omar Kholeif, this time as our guest curator for Gateway. Dr. Kholeif is a leading expert in this field and a natural voice to draw on for this endeavour. For his exhibition, Dr. Kholeif will be focusing on the metaverse, inclusive of debates around NFTs and blockchain technologies, but also different histories and narratives, further exploring an exciting new frontier in the world of art, whilst expanding Abu Dhabi’s contribution to debates around emerging technology.Dyala Nusseibeh, Director, Abu Dhabi Art
My Life in the Metaverse is a multi-disciplinary exhibition that spans a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, photography, installation, video, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with a journey through a simulation, guided by Dr. Kholeif’s alter ego Dr. O.
The exhibition finds Dr. O devoured by a computer to enter the bizarre contours of the metaverse. Curated from Dr. O’s desktop, it presents the inner workings of this ecosphere and offers a gateway into all things “meta”, from the rise of Web3, NFTs and renewable energy, to Photoshop aesthetics and artificial intelligence (AI).
My Life in the Metaverse features works by internationally renowned artists, many of whom will be presenting new commissions, or artworks that have never been shown in the UAE before. The artists include Sophia Al Maria, Cory Arcangel, Cream Projects, Simon Denny, Celia Hempton, Paul Heyer, Haroon Mirza, Farhad Moshiri, Trevor Paglen, Nam June Paik, Heather Phillipson, and Andy Warhol.
I am thrilled to be working again with Abu Dhabi Art and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, who have long supported and believed in the significance of distinct artistic voices. Clustering nearly two decades of my research and experience into a playful interplay of fact, fiction, and fantasy, My Life in the Metaverse hopes to elucidate the possibilities of the free-wheeling techno-present. Critically reflecting on the myriad histories that have brought us to this moment is no small task; accordingly, this show is conceived as the first chapter in a series of projects that explore the prospects of our collective imagination.Dr. Kholeif
Among the array of artworks featured will be Trevor Paglen’s grand sculpture, The Standard Head (2020), which reconstructs CIA agent Woody Bledsoe’s 1960s equation for the typical human head. Nam June Paik’s TV Buddha (1974-2002), a Buddha statue watching an image of itself on a TV screen set in an infinite loop, exists alongside a selection of Polaroid photographs by Any Warhol, reflecting the birth of selfie culture aesthetics.
Paintings by Hempton explore how painting can capture the culture and form of surveillance, while multi-disciplinary art collective Cream Projects will present a new commission, Too Many Humans (2022-ongoing), part of their five-part treatise on image-making in an age that has been reconceived by corporations as the “metaverse”. Simon Denny presents new NFT paintings under the umbrella of his project, Dotcom Séance (2022-ongoing).
The exhibition begins and ends with a propositional concept store entitled, Dr O’s Pop Shop: The Blockchain Editionwhich is inspired by Keith Haring’s Pop Shops of the 1980s and invokes immersive retail experiences for our present era.
My Life in the Metaverse is an artPost21 Production curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif, conceived in conversation with artist, poet and current Turner-Prize nominee, Heather Phillipson.
About Abu Dhabi Art
Abu Dhabi Art expands beyond the notion of a traditional art fair, in placing strong emphasis on a diverse public engagement programme, including art installations and exhibitions, talks and events that take place in different locations throughout the year. The culmination of this year-long programme is the Abu Dhabi Art event in November, which provides an important sales platform for participating galleries whilst also offering these galleries an opportunity to showcase ambitious installations and site-specific works by their artists to a wide audience.
About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors and its creative industries, fuelling economic progress and helping to achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the DCT Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the DCT Abu Dhabi’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies, and systems to support the culture, tourism and creative industries.
DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.