Opening night of But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988–2008, pictured works by artists Vivek Vilasini and Jos Clevers

On August 25, The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery will host an online event to celebrate the launch of a new archive in its TRACE: Archives and Reunions series. This archive is the sixth in the series, covering the 2017 exhibition But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008. The series overall features 10 virtual events that enable viewers to explore The NYUAD Art Gallery’s past six years of exhibitions.

The upcoming event consists of an online conversation with some of the artists and writers who founded the UAE art community featured in the exhibition: Nujoom Al-Ghanem, Khalid Albudoor, Mohammed Kazem, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Abdullah Al Saadi, Vivek Vilasini, Adel Khozam, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Cristiana de Marchi, and Abdulraheem Sharif.

Art historian Dr. Aisha Stoby will moderate the bilingual (Arabic/English) conversation. The exhibition’s curatorial team, comprising Maya Allison (NYUAD Chief Curator), Bana Kattan (Associate Curator, MCA Chicago), and Alaa Edris (Assistant Director, Publications and Education, NYUAD), will also take part. Everyone is welcome to join and participate via Zoom.

But We Cannot See Them was accompanied by a book of contextualizing essays and interviews with the artists, a rare sourcebook for art historians of the modern Arabian Peninsula. The project surveyed a little-known artistic community comprising visual artists, writers, and filmmakers based in the UAE, focusing on a core group known as “the five” (the late artist Hassan Sharif, co-founder of Sharjah’s Emirates Fine Arts Society, was a renowned member of this group). “The five” identified with a new culture that encouraged radical, formal, and conceptual experimentation; several of these artists went on to represent the UAE at the Venice Biennial. The exhibition and book began the process of tracing this pivotal community in the decades before they gained international recognition.

To attend the archive launch for But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988–2008 on Tuesday, August 25 at 8pm in Abu Dhabi (12pm EDT), register at