Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NYUAD introduces FIND cultural platform for artists and scholars

If you are interested in UAE life beyond working and partying, NYU Abu Dhabi's cultural dialogue and mapping platform FIND might interest you. I attended the public event at which the university introduced the initiative and hosted UAEU professor Yasser Elsheshtawy and Cuadro Gallery director Roberto Lopardo to discuss their work as fellows.

Yasser Elsheshtawy (L) and Roberto Lopardo (R)

The speakers talked about their projects for mapping Abu Dhabi. Dr Elsheshtawy's academic approach focused on the hidden-in-plain-sight world within the "super-blocks" of the city, observing and analyzing the human dynamics and public culture of "interstitial spaces", such as the bustling "square with a tree" in the middle of a block between Hamdan and Electra. Lopardo, on the other hand, extended his 24-hour picture-a-minute trek modus operandi, successfully executed in a number of other major cities (including Dubai, the result of which I remember seeing at Cuadro a long time ago), to 20 second video clips, and played a few of those clips for discussion. The third fellow, Reem Falaknaz, was unable to make it to the talk; too bad, as she was studying the mountain communities in the Northern Emirates, and would have added a rural perspective to what was otherwise an interesting, but very urban-set discussion.

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