Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates is an ongoing touring exhibition mounted by Meridian International Center and Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington DC. This cultural diplomacy art project started in 2014, and since then several cultural institutions had the opportunity to proudly present this comprehensive exhibit of major works made by some notable Emirati artists. Starting in the end of August, Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing will have the honor of showcasing these Emirati artworks to the public, as part of the extensive tour intended to finish in 2016.
Past Forward exhibition aims not only to display the latest achievements in the field of art and present rich cultural heritage of United Arab Emirates but also to set up an artistic and educational platform for cultural exchange. As the title of this collective exhibition suggests the main theme of the show is the complex relationship between Emirati past and aspirations for the future. In the country that has witnessed some massive economic growth and rapid development the last couple of decades, art became an important tool in mirroring those changes. In the time of globalized society, the notion of one’s cultural identity seems to fall into conflict between postmodern tendencies of unification and their nationalist alternatives. The question of prime concern for many individuals over the globe is how to solve this paradox and stay true to their traditional cultural roots and at the same time be a part of the ever developing global society. This shared concern of cultural identity along with many other will be explored through the course of this exhibition.
An array of Emirati artists will be presented during the Past Forward exhibition through fifty works of art made in various techniques. The artworks showcased will include contemporary Emirati achievements in painting, sculpture, photography, video installation and mixed-media work. This comprehensive display of artworks will cover Emirati art production through the extensive period of more than forty years, from the pioneering works in the field of contemporary art to the artistry of those emerging young talents. The artists gathered for this exhibition explore the essence of Emirati life through various scenes of natural, urban and social environment. Emirati culture caught in a transitional phase between its rich heritage and the prospect of bright future is filtered through the artistic vision of more than twenty men and women participating in the Past Forward cultural project.
The Past Forward exhibition will open on August 29th and it will stay on view to October 18th, 2015, at Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at Michigan State University. This collective show is a real treat to those who want to experience the cultural diversity from the first hand, share experiences, and challenge their cultural values once confronted with the alternative cultural developments.
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Lateefa bint Maktoum - Observers of Change I, 2011. Photograph - Courtesy of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan
Zeinab Al Hashemi - Pearl Tale, 2010. Scanograph - Courtesy of the artist
All images courtesy of Eli And Edythe Broad Museum