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19 Mar 2013

Symphony by Adel Abidin at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai

Courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi

Lawrie Shabibi


Exhibition runs
from 18 March - 18 April 2013
Gallery opening hours:
10am to 6pm Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 6pm Saturdays, closed on Fridays.

Joud Malhas
+971 (0)4 346 9906
+971 (0)4 346 9902

Lawrie Shabibi
Alserkal Avenue, unit 21, Al Quoz
POBox 123901, Dubai
United Arab Emirates

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Lawrie Shabibi is pleased to present Symphony a solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Adel Abidin. Curated by Basak Senova, the exhibition opened on 18 March as part of Dubai’s 2013 Art Week.  The exhibition also includes an artwork entitled Al-Warqaa commissioned by United Arab Emirates based Barjeel Art Foundation which expands and develops upon his earlier two correlated works - a video and sculpture-based installation (which lends its name to the title of the exhibition) - first exhibited at Arter, Istanbul in October 2012.

In March, 2012, at least 90 Iraqi students with 'emo' appearances were stoned to death by religious extremists in Baghdad. Abidin takes this single event and transforms it into an imaginative journey that examines death, the soul’s quest for liberation and the tragic price paid in the name of freedom. Taking as his foundation the philosophical and metaphysical writings of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) Symphony is an homage to these young people and seeks to process the violent effects of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice that exist in many guises all over the world.

The sculpture-based installation features 90 small white doors in the walls, some of them closed, while some open. When the viewer pulls open the doors, small white statues of these young people, resting in peace, come into view on the sliding beds. The video installation portrays the aftermath of the massacre of these young people, the very same statues from the installation depicting the stiff corpses in an evocative painterly scene. A thread connects each of the statues' mouths to the leg of a white dove. The flock of doves flaps their wings in vain, attempting to escape, but are anchored by the weight of death. The fluttering wings form a white cloud in the sky, registering the only movement in the work. The stillness of death is juxtaposed with the frantically flapping wings. The whistling cries and rustling wings of the doves create a soothing yet terrifying white noise.

Abidin will articulate these two works by adding a large-scale light-based sculptural installation titled Al-Warqaa and a video piece viewed on an LED Screen titled Mass along with an outdoor photographic work installed on the exterior wall of the gallery. 

A publication accompanies the exhibition with essays by Arie Amaya-Akkermans, Basak Senova, Daniella Rose King, Didem Yazici and Nat Muller.

The Barjeel Art Foundation has generously funded the production of Al-Warqaa. The exhibition has been generously supported by Badr Jafar and Dr. Reem El Mutwalli.

Adel Abidin
(1973, Baghdad, Iraq)
Adel Abidin was born in Baghdad in 1973, and currently lives in Helsinki. He has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions at renowned galleries and museums worldwide. Amongst his critically acclaimed works are Three Love Songs at Mathaf (Doha), and The Consumption of War, at the Iraq Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale. Previous group exhibitions include: the Arab Express group show at the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki); the Centre of Contemporary Art (Salamanca); the 10th Sharjah Biennale; 17th Sydney Biennale; and the 52nd and 54th Venice Biennales. Abidin has had solo exhibitions at L'institut du Monde Arabe (Paris), Arter Gallery (Istanbul), Kunsthalle Winterthur (Winterthur, Switzerland), and the Mead Gallery (Warwick, UK). Participation in upcoming exhibitions includes: the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver, Canada), and the 10th anniversary exhibition of the Mori Art Museum, where the artist will feature alongside Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Jeff Koons.

Basak Senova (1970, Istanbul, Turkey)
Basak Senova is a curator and designer. She studied Literature and Graphic Design (MFA in Graphic Design and Ph.D. in Art, Design and Architecture at Bilkent University) and attended the 7th Curatorial Training Programme of Stichting De Appel, Amsterdam. She has been writing on art, technology and media, initiating and developing projects and curating exhibitions since 1995. Senova is the editor of art-ist 6, Kontrol Online Magazine, Lapses book series, UNCOVERED and Aftermath among other publications. She is an editorial correspondent for and one of the founding members of NOMAD, as well as the organizer of “ctrl_alt_del” and “Upgrade!Istanbul”. Senova was the curator of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) and lectured as assistant professor at the Faculty of Communication, Kadir Has University, Istanbul (2006-2010). Some of her exhibitions and projects include “Conscious in Coma” (Goethe-Institut, Istanbul, 2006), “Rejection Episodes” (Vooruit Kunstencentrum, Gent, Belgium, 2006), “Unrecorded” (Akbank Sanat, Istanbul, 2008), “Soft Borders” (São Paulo, Brazil, 2010), “Aftermath” (Akbank Sanat, Istanbul, 2012), “UNCOVERED. International Nicosia Airport” project (2010-2013, Cyprus) and "The Move. Adel Abidin. Rosa Barba. Runa Islam" (Arter, Istanbul, 2012). Currently, she curates "The Translation" exhibition (Cabaret Voltaire Zurich, 2013) and co-curates the 2nd Biennial of Contemporary Art, D-0 ARK Underground (2013) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Basak Senova lives in Ankara and works in Istanbul.

The Barjeel Art Foundation

The Barjeel Art Foundation is an independent, United Arab Emirates-based initiative established to manage, preserve and exhibit the personal art collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi in addition to building a public platform centered on providing an accessible resource for modern and contemporary art by artists with roots in the Arab world. The foundation’s guiding principle is to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent, publicly accessible art collection in the UAE.  Part of this objective involves developing a public platform to foster critical dialogue around contemporary art practices with a focus on artists with Arab heritage internationally. The foundation strives to create an open-ended enquiry that responds to and conveys the nuances inherent to Arab histories beyond borders of culture and geography. By hosting in-house exhibitions, lending artwork to international forums, producing print and online publications, and fashioning interactive public programmes, the foundation strives to serve as an informative resource for contemporary art by Arab artists both locally and on the global stage. In addition to building an informative database of artists, the foundation is seeking to develop an educational programme that both understands and involves the local community. By establishing partnerships with arts and cultural institutions internationally, the foundation looks to create opportunities to encourage public awareness of the importance of art to the community. For more information please contact

Further information
Lawrie Shabibi is a contemporary gallery located in Dubai’s Al-Quoz industrial district focusing on both established and emerging contemporary artists from the Arab world, Iran, North Africa, South Asia and Turkey.  Founded in 2010 by William Lawrie and Asmaa Al-Shabibi, the gallery engages the public with art that imparts a cultural and political discourse together with a powerful aesthetic.