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Expo 2020’s Public Art Programme unveils first permanent artwork and reveals leading names commissioned to create artistic legacy

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Press Release

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A gigantic iridescent, oil drill-shaped sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri has launched Expo 2020 Dubai’s striking Public Art Programme, which brings together 11 leading artists from the UAE, region and the world.

Alongside Al Qadiri, the commissioned artists are Hamra Abbas, Afra Al Dhaheri, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Abdullah Al Saadi, Asma Belhamar, Olafur Eliasson, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Khalil Rabah, Yinka Shonibare and Haegue Yang.

The immersive 11 contemporary artworks will form a creative journey around Expo 2020’s public spaces and will live on as part of the future city of District 2020. As the first curated permanent open-air art exhibition in the UAE, it will leave a lasting impact as part of the next World Expo’s legacy, provide an exciting addition to the UAE’s vibrant and thriving artistic scene, and boost Dubai’s position on the global cultural map.

Chimera © Monira Al Qadiri 2021. Commissioned by, and collection of, Expo 2020 Dubai

The Public Art Programme of Expo 2020 Dubai takes inspiration from the famous Arab mathematician, astronomer, and physicist Ibn Al Haytham’s seminal work, Book of Optics (c. 11th century). Ibn Al Haytham has been called “the father of modern optics” for his significant theories and foundational principles of optics and visual perception. The concept of the programme provides a prism to view contemporary art creations and a context that allows an exploration of the philosophical aspect of Ibn Al Haytham’s theories on visual perception, including his definitions of vision, recognition and the impossibility of envisioning a full picture of reality within oneself, without the power of imagination.

Tarek Abou El Fetouh, Public Art Curator, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the Public Art Programme with Chimera by artist Monira Al Qadiri. Her bold sculpture with its magnified size and reflective colour makes it seem like a futuristic creature from outer space. Through this sculpture, the artist attempts to merge the pre- and post-oil eras into one body. She creates aesthetic connections between pearls and oil, through their colour, materiality, symbolism, ecology and economy in order to reimagine the past, present and future of the wider Gulf region”.

“With 191 participating countries showcasing their arts and creativity, Expo 2020 will offer an unmissable opportunity for the public to discover a unique global collection of galleries and exhibitions in one place, while the Public Art Programme presents never-before-seen artworks for visitors to engage with during the next World Expo and beyond.”

Monira Al Qadiri, Artist, said: “I am very proud to be among the 11 artists from around the world selected to be part of this programme that invites visitors to access new perspectives through art in public space.

Located across the Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability districts and Expo 2020’s two parks, the artworks will form landmarks on-site and become a permanent part of District 2020, a model global community for the future that will evolve from Expo 2020.

Expo 2020 will run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, inviting visitors from every corner of the globe to discover a wide range of cultural and artistic initiatives dedicated to broadening horizons and bringing people, communities and nations together.

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