CULTURAL OLYMPIAD: Sculptures to form a permanent part of Games legacy
Volunteer blogger Valerie Cox was at Manarat Al Saadiyat for the unveiling of six public art sculptures as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
A couple of questions that can be heard asked around the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are around how we keep the conversation going after the Games are over? What’s going to be the long term impact of the Games?
The Cultural Olympiad is part of the answer. Make sure to pick up an official program at stands around the Games to find out more about all the activities happening as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
On the second day of the Games, six sculptures by internationally renowned artists were unveiled as part of a Public Art Commission that are sure to keep the conversation going. The project was developed in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and the work commission managed by Abu Dhabi Art.
Nadim Karam is the sculptor of one of the works titled ‘Grasping the World’. A Lebanese artist, Karam has works in numerous historical locations around the world.
What was his process for this particular sculpture, and how did the Special Olympics inspire him?
“Ultimately, although the Games are a sports competition, they are so much more than that. At their core is the ability to connect, and to do things simply, as we did as children, letting all the politics and cultural interference go. At the heart of this sculpture is a ball, with two children, a boy, and a girl, playing. We have all done this and it reminds us of simple values,” explains Karim.
“The ball is of a reflective material, so we see ourselves, those around us, and the grass at our feet, reminding us that we are all part of the earth. I also used steel as it weathers with age, again reflecting the environment and time. You can see the newly installed sculpture already has marks made by yesterday’s rare Abu Dhabi rain storm.”
Wael Shawky’s work examines religious, cultural, and artistic relationships with history, and emphasizes that all our perspectives interpret history from a different set of values and experiences.
Shawky has an extensive body of work in film, performance, and story telling mediums. The Egyptian artist’s installation in Abu Dhabi is a detailed carving in wood and resembles a medieval depiction of a walled city. An element of the installation is an ongoing conversation with people here in Abu Dhabi, and as the conversation progresses more elements will be carved and added to the work.
The topic of the sculpture is somewhat like a virtual reality exploration of how our global cities relate in our minds. The conversations will inform his visualization, with the end product being a unique vision and perspective of the world.
Towards the far wall of the peaceful Manarat Al Saadiyat sculpture garden, a gentle fluttering sound can be heard. Looking up, your eyes meet a small grove of tree limbs adorned with colorful plastic bags. Although there is an element of environmental awareness about the sculpture, Harold Schouten, the producer for the artist Pascale Marthine Tayou of Cameroon, tells me the artist is more focused on viewers recognizing beautiful elements from our everyday global lives. The sculpture is certainly perfectly situated to give us those reminders.
Other artists represented in the new Manarat Saadiyat sculpture garden include Mehmet Ali Uysal, Noli Jun, and Etel Adnan.
In addition to the Public Art Commission, the Cultural Olympiad includes an Inclusive Art Exhibition at Emirates Palace, the Play and Live Unified program, Global Youth Leadership Summit & Youth Circle, and Stand Up for Inclusion Concert.
To read more about the Inclusive Art Exhibition click