May 24, 2009 - United Arab Emirates Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - 53rd Venice Biennale
May 24, 2009

53rd Venice Biennale

Lamya Gargash (Dubai, b. 1982)
Al Jazira Lobby, from the Familial series
76.2 x 76.2 cm
Image courtesy of the artist.

The UAE Pavilion
At The Venice Biennale
53rd International Art Exhibition

Preview Days: June 4 – 6, 2009
Opening Press Conference: Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Public Dates:
June 7 – November 22, 2009

Raising awareness that the United Arab Emirates is emerging as an important contributor to the world of contemporary art, the UAE National Pavilion will welcome visitors from June 7 through November 22, 2009, as the nation’s official contribution to the Venice Biennale.

The UAE Pavilion, located in the Arsenale, is the first national pavilion ever to be created at the Biennale by an Arabian Gulf country. It is being developed and presented under the leadership of its Commissioner, Dr. Lamees Hamdan, a member of the Board of Directors of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Serving as curator for the UAE Pavilion is Tirdad Zolghadr, an internationally respected curator, critic, professor and filmmaker.

The UAE Pavilion will be titled “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” a playful and provocative name for the country’s first pavilion at the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event. “By and large, art professionals around the world dismiss the notion that a pavilion can truly represent a nation,” Zolghadr explains. “There still remains much to consider – especially when the nation in question is a place where more efforts are being invested in the development of a global art arena, within a smaller geographic space, and within a shorter time frame, than ever attempted before.”

“Coming from a new arrival at the Venice Biennale,” Zolghadr continues, “the title ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’ might therefore be interpreted to mean, ‘Look, it’s the UAE’s turn now.’ The UAE Pavilion will be unapologetic about documenting the nation—even while the Pavilion as a whole can be seen as an exhibition about exhibition-making, reflecting on the very act of national showcasing at the Venice Biennale.”

Built in a large and prominent location in the Arsenale—one of the two main areas of the Venice Biennale—the Pavilion will draw attention to its nature and function as a showcase through a combination of scenographic elements and architectural design by the partnership of Rami Farook (founder of the UAE’s Traffic design gallery) and the Belgian architectural collective D’haeseleer & Kimpe & Poelaert, known for its collaborations with visual artists. Physically, the entire Pavilion will highlight a “World’s Fair” theme that will incorporate various components:

• work by the featured artist, Lamya Gargash;
• a showroom of work by several UAE artists: Ebtisam Abdul-Aziz, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Huda Saeed Saif, and, Hassan Sharif;
Hannah Hurtzig’s Kiosk featuring conversations with key figures in the cultural panorama of the country;
• a documentation of a Dubai performance by the Jackson Pollock Bar; and
• scenography reminiscent of the World’s Fair tradition, including text panels and architectural models of UAE arts infrastructure.

Sponsorship and Support

The UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has been initiated and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and is sponsored by the Emirates Foundation and the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA).

Location and Public Hours

The UAE Pavilion is located in the Arsenale – Artiglierie.
Sunday, June 7 through Sunday, November 22, 2009
10 am – 6 pm
The Arsenale is closed on Tuesdays (excluding Tuesday, June 9 and Tuesday, November 17).

For additional information, please visit: or contact

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Press Contact
Amy Wentz, Ruder Finn Arts & Communications Counselors
+1 (212) 715-1551 /

United Arab Emirates Pavilion

United Arab Emirates Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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