But We Cannot See Them

Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008

Edited by Maya Allison

Format: Paperback

But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Underground, 1988-2008 is edited by Maya Allison, with essays by Aisha Astoby and Adel Khoza, and interviews with members of the community, including Hassan Sharif, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Abdullah Al Saadi, Mohammed Kazem, Hussain Sharif, Vivek Vilasini,Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Cristiana De Marchi, Nujoom Alghanem and Khalid Albudoor.

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Akkadia Press

Akkadia Press is a specialist art, museum and bespoke book publishing house.

Product Description


This is the first comprehensive sourcebook for one of the most important contemporary art communities in the UAE's history. It centers on a group sometimes called "the five,” at an intersection of visual artists, writers, and filmmakers based in the UAE. Its members identified with a "new culture” of encouraging radical, formal and conceptual experimentation. Eventually, some of these artists founded the celebrated Flying House.

Founding Director and Chief Curator of the NYUAD Art Gallery, Maya Allison, notes: "When I first met these artists and learned about the history of their community, it struck me that theirs shares a structural similarity with ‘underground' or ‘independent' art scenes that I've studied. Operating as an artistic community outside of formal art institutions allows artists a combination of freedom and support that can enable powerful creative innovation.”

Allison explains, "I am told that in the early 1990s, when curators came to the UAE looking for contemporary art, they concluded none was being made, because they could not see it. Yet contemporary art was actually flourishing. The particular artists in this exhibition developed what we might call an ‘underground,' in spite of - or because of - the scarcity of public venues able to support conceptual and formal experimentation in the UAE at the time. When The Flying House opened in 2007, that space gave them a new found visibility, leading to further audience and institutional support.”

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Akkadia Press
Publication Date 1 Mar 2017
ISBN 9780993584572
Number of Pages 304

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