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How to Begin? Envisioning the Impact of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Posted August 05, 2010 by admin

How to Begin? Envisioning the Impact of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Contributors: Regine Basha, Hassan Khan, Sohrab Mohebbi, Didem Özbek, and Sarah Rifky

Edited by Özge Ersoy

How can the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi position itself beyond serving as a pragmatic tool to boost tourism in its locale? What role can it play in the existing arts infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates and the larger area of cultural structures defined by the term “Middle East”? How can this museum accrue value for artworks that are produced in this region and its diasporas? Taking its cue from these questions, How to Begin? Envisioning the Impact of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi presents a collection of essays by artists, curators, and writers. In a setting where all strategic plans and arguments reside in conjecture, this publication not only aims to introduce a set of critical responses to the most recent support structures in the arts, but also imagines alternative possibilities for how these structures might be built and influence the practice of artists, curators, and other cultural producers. This project is the manifestation of creative and critical activity at a time when the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, still unbuilt, is surrounded by questions that linger without answers.

Contributors bios:

Özge Ersoy is currently a Master of Arts candidate at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. She received her B.A. in Global and International Affairs from Bogazici University, Istanbul and Binghamton University, NY. She is the editor of BoltArt online arts and culture magazine, and occasionally contributes to magazines and newspapers on contemporary arts.

Regine Basha graduated from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in 1996, its inaugural year. For the past 17 years, she has curated exhibitions, public projects, and temporal interventions in cities such as Montreal, Austin, Istanbul, Cairo, Santiago, Marfa, and Los Angeles, and continues to work as an independent curator now based in Brooklyn. She is the co-founder of Fluent~Collaborative, Grackleworld.com, and most recently the audio-visual archive tuningbaghdad.net, which she realized with the support of United Nations Plaza. She has published numerous catalogs on artists such as Daniel Bozhkov, Stephen Vitiello, Emily Jacir, and Dario Robleto, and has written for publications such as Art Papers, Art Lies, Cabinet, and Modern Painters. Basha sits on the board of Art Matters and the Aurora Picture Show and is an associate programmer of Cabinet magazine's new Gowanus exhibition and event space.


Hassan Khan is an artist based in Cairo. Selected solo shows include Gezira Art Center, Cairo (1999), Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris (2004), A Space Gallery, Toronto (2005), Gasworks, London (2006), Le Plateau, Paris (2007), Uqbar, Berlin (2008), and forthcoming Kunsthalle St. Gallen (2010). Khan has participated in various international group shows, including the Istanbul (2003), Seville (2006), Sydney (2006), Thessaloniki (2007), Contour (2007), Gwangju (2008) biennials, as well as the Turin (2005) and Yokohama (2008) triennials. He has composed soundtracks for theater, regularly performs in solo concerts around the world, and his album tabla dub is available on the 100COPIES label. Khan is also widely published in both Arabic and English. His text Nine Lessons Learned from Sherif El-Azma was published by the Contemporary Image Collective in early 2009.


Sohrab Mohebbi is a curator and a writer. His articles have been published in Bidoun magazine, Universe-in-Universe, Lavanguarida, and Golestane literary magazine, among others. He is a founding member of 127 Band. He obtained his BFA in Photography at Tehran Art University. Mohebbi is a M.A. candidate at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.


Didem Özbek is an artist and designer based in Istanbul. Özbek studied Graphic Design at Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul, and obtained her M.A. in Communication Design at Central St Martins College of Art & Design, London. Her work has been exhibited at International Design Center Nagoya, Nagoya; Akbank Sanat, Istanbul; Umetnostna Galerija Maribor; Museo MADRE, Naples; Frieze Art Fair, London; and PiST///, Istanbul. She is the co-founder of PiST/// Interdisciplinary Project Space, a non-for-profit, independent artist-run space in Istanbul. Since 2006 she co-directed and co-curated PiST projects, including Reserved ’06 exhibition series, PiST 7-24 window display exhibitions, Turkish Pavilion, PiST PARK, and PiST stand at Frieze Art Fair 2008. She also created and developed conceptual projects for PiST, such as Artist Information, Tea Stand, and White Sugar Cube Book. Özbek also writes and designs for PiST publications. Since 2007, PiST publishes LiST, Istanbul’s contemporary art list. Özbek is the designer and co-editor of this free bimonthly guide with a map listing Istanbul’s contemporary art events.


Sarah Rifky is a curator and writer based in Cairo at the Townhouse Gallery of contemporary art. Rifky obtained her BA in Visual Arts from the American University in Cairo in 2003 and her MFA in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy, Lund University in 2009. Rifky is a member of the Reloading Images network. She is a co-editor of the collective artist book Damascus: Tourists, Artists and Secret Agents (The Green Box, 2009) and a board member of MOTO: Museum of the Occident.
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