Abu Dhabi community arts hub Manarat Al Saadiyat, run by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, will host the photography exhibition titled 'CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop' from 15 December 2020 to 31 May 2021, in partnership with the region’s leading cultural and lifestyle platform, Sole.

Showing outside of the United States for the first time, CONTACT HIGH will take visitors through four decades of photographs, albums, magazine covers and memorabilia that document Hip-Hop culture. The exhibition will feature over 150 images by 60+ photographers including Janette Beckman, Barron Claiborne, Jorge Peniche, Joe Conzo, Martha Cooper, Jamel Shabazz, Danny Clinch, Brian “B+” Cross, Eric Coleman, Estevan Oriol, Jack McKain and Ravie B.

Photographs will be displayed alongside the original contact sheets, providing an intimate look into the photographer’s journey during the shoot, as well as unrivalled insight into the personality of the subject in front of the camera, often capturing a nuanced or more humorous side of the Hip-Hop artist that is rarely seen by the public. The images portray some of Hip-Hop’s biggest names, such as Kanye West, Cardi B, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Megan Thee Stallion, MF Doom, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Aaliyah, A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, and the legendary Notorious B.I.G. 

CONTACT HIGH is curated by journalist Vikki Tobak, writer of the bestselling book of the same name. The exhibition’s Creative Director is Hip-Hop visual artist and filmmaker Fab 5 Freddy, and its Producer is Joseph Patel. 

The selection of Abu Dhabi as the exhibition’s first international stop reflects the importance of Hip-Hop culture to those living in the UAE and wider region, as well as the Arab world’s growing fan-base of the music and fashion associated with the movement. 

“One of the most culturally significant musical movements, Hip-Hop pioneered not only a new sound but a unique visual identity that, for decades now, has influenced sonic experimentation and fashion around the world. The emirate is home to many fans of the genre and as such, we hope that in the photos and objects on display, visitors will find much that resonates and inspires,” said Fatima Yousef Al Yousef, Public Engagement & Programming Head at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

Vikki Tobak, Curator of CONTACT HIGH, commented, “Hip-Hop is a uniquely American cultural force that grew out of Black and Brown communities to have a long and lasting impact on people all over the world.”

“Having had a hand in Hip-Hop culture’s development from a local, New York City-wide craze, to a national movement, to a dominant global force has been astonishing to witness and partake in,” commented Fab 5 Freddy, Creative Director of the CONTACT HIGH exhibition. “The CONTACT HIGH photo exhibit, the first of its kind coming to Abu Dhabi, is the latest and greatest chapter in this ongoing epic saga.” 

Joshua Cox, Partner at Sole, commented, “For those of us who grew up with Hip-Hop, seeing a museum level retrospective come to life is a dream come true. The artists we listened to had a profound impact on our lives, and it’s through the foresight of our featured photographers that we get a view into that world.”

“The images in this show not only invoke nostalgia, but also inspire optimism for the future of the genre. We are truly grateful to Vikki Tobak for trusting us to bring her vision to Abu Dhabi, and to the Manarat Al Saadiyat team for their collaboration, confidence, and continued support for the arts,” said Joshua Cox.

Tickets for CONTACT HIGH are priced at AED 30 and will be available through Virgin Megastore Ticketing. 

Further programming announcements will be made soon. For further information about CONTACT HIGH, and for visitor information, please visit: https://www.sole.digital/contacthighad