421 Presents Summer 2023 Program: ‘Setting Suns’ Featuring Two Exhibitions and a Public Program Encouraging Collective Discovery and Self Expression

Running from June 21 to September 21, the season features new public programs for all ages such as Summer Club, Performance Co/Labs, film screenings, home-cooking sessions,  and artist gatherings 


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We are please to present the Summer 2023 Program: Setting Suns. Running from June 21 until September 21, the program invites the community to embrace the natural rhythm of the season and collectively discover new forms of self-expression through an engaging public program  that invites the community to participate in homecooking sessions, performance and movement workshops and the annual Summer Club. The public is also invited to reflect on personal and collective histories through a film screening program showcasing works of award-winning local filmmakers, and the chance to connect with fellow artists and writers through the first Artists’ and Writers’ Soiree.

Running in tandem with and continuing with the exhibitions Nasir Nasrallah: Poetic of Machines and SYNTHESIS: 2023 MFA Graduate Show, the public programs this summer season focus on collective sharing, performance, movement cooking, encouraging engagement with different forms of creativity. 


In September, the program will see the opening of a solo exhibition for Artistic Development Program participant Asma Belhamar and group exhibitions curated by Curatorial Development Program participants Ritika Biswas and Paribartana Mohanty.


Designed for children of all backgrounds and interests, the 421 Summer Club offers a diverse range of workshops that encourage artistic expression and foster creative experimentation. The bi-monthly Performance Co/Labs, led by UAE-based performers for the community, offer an afternoon of music and exercises that invigorate the mind and the body. The program also features a series of home-cooking workshops led by homegrown chefs, offering a taste of traditional recipes and a joyful culinary experience. A weekend film screening program will present award-winning short films that were produced and directed by filmmakers based in the UAE. 


Summer 2023 Program in detail:


Nasir Nasrallah: Poetic of Machines 

Part of the Artistic Development Program 

Gallery 1

On view until September 24


Nasir Nasrallah’s new solo exhibition at 421, titled Poetic of Machines, presents a mythical exploration of the relationship between humans and machines. Through a collection of intricate drawings, paintings, publications, textiles, and installations, the UAE-based artist takes us on a journey into a world of mechanical creatures that exist in an unknown space and time, and is inspired by early Islamic inventions and experiments.


The drawings and paintings are detailed, depicting a variety of unique robotic figures. They are often presented in groups, suggesting a kind of community or society of machines. The exhibition acts as a stage or a set where an unscripted narrative plays out, examining how this community of machines converses, communicates, and interacts, exploring the potential for life in the so-called non-living and vice versa. The work invites us to consider the impact of machines on our daily lives and our ever-evolving relationship with these mechanical beings. 


Nasrallah's depictions of machines are not merely mechanical; rather, he imbues them with personalities, emotions, and even a sense of humor. In one of his installations, for instance, visitors walking through the exhibition will encounter a fax machine that receives messages in real-time and a sofa setup that replicates the one found in Nasrallah's personal studio. These elements create a sense of familiarity and intimacy, inviting visitors into the artist's personal world.


Nasrallah is a participant in the 2023 cycle of the 421 Artistic Development Program. Poetic of Machines is a result of the program which is organized in partnership with pedagogical partner Institute for Emerging Art. 


SYNTHESIS: 2023 MFA Graduate Show

Showcase of artworks from the New York University Abu Dhabi Master of Fine Art in Art and Media

Gallery 2

On view until September 24


SYNTHESIS: 2023 MFA Graduate Show presents the work of graduate students completing the two-year Master of Fine Arts in Art and Media at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). 


Marking the second year of collaboration between 421 and NYUAD, the exhibition showcases the research and experimentation of the inaugural MFA cohort who visualize questions and ideas in expansive ways and provides valuable insights into our contemporary global condition. SYNTHESIS features projects by Elizabeth Dorazio, Liane Al Ghusain, Majd Alloush, Mahra AlFalahi, and Fabiola Chiminazzo. 


This collaboration between 421 and NYUAD aims to support the production of emergent contemporary practices from the region by facilitating explorations by the MFA cohort of public spaces as sites of community engagement and critical dialogue that allow them to work towards an expansive studio practice beyond purely academic or institutional environments. 

Summer Club 

July 17-30, 2023

10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Ages: 6 to 10 and 11 to 14 


The 421 Summer Club offers a world of creativity and artistic exploration this summer. Designed for children ages 6 to 10 and 11 to 14, all young minds of all skill sets and interests are invited to join an unforgettable journey of self-expression and imaginative discovery. This year, the summer club focuses on themes of sustainability and environmental awareness, teaching participants about being mindful stewards of the plant while inspiring them to create their projects using sustainable practices, incorporating eco-friendly materials and techniques. 


The summer club offers a diverse range of workshops that encourage artistic expression and foster creative experimentation. Through engaging activities, hands-on projects, and expert guidance, children will unlock their inner artist and develop their unique talents. From painting and sculpture to music and theater, there's something for every creative spirit to explore.


Performance Co/Lab 

July 16, August 13 and 27, September 10 and 24 

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm 

Studio 4

Open to all

Free admission 


An afternoon of movement and creativity, Performance Co/Lab  is open to participants of all ages, abilities and skills, encouraging creative expression through exercises that put bodies and voices to use! The bi-monthly gathering is run by Abu Dhabi community members for the community.


Jamming Sessions: Home Cooking Series

July 16 and August 5 

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Ticket: 120 AED 


Jamming Sessions: Home Cooking Series is a series of workshops led by UAE’s homegrown chefs. Participants can join as family duos to learn about traditional recipes as handed down through the chefs’ relatives. Each session, led by Jehan Ali and Eva Samir, will be accompanied by a playlist that sets the scene of a home kitchen.


Summer Palette: An Artist Soiree 

August 26 

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm 

Open to all 

Free admission


Join us at 421’s Artist Soiree to enjoy food, music, and art! Listen to the Artistic Development Program’s 2022/2023 cohort; Asma Belhamar, Mahshid Rafiei, and Nasir Nasrallah as they present their work and process.

Asma Belhamar’s practice confronts the visual memory of local landscapes, and offers insight into their architectural practices. Her solo exhibition is upcoming in Fall 2023.

Mahshid Rafiei’s practice explores the tension between image and material inherent in sculpture. Her recent solo exhibition, ‘Of Mythic Proportions’ opened at 421 from February to May 2023.

Nasir Nasrallah’s multimedia practice bridges different times and places to reframe established concepts of materiality and being. His solo exhibition ‘Poetics of Machine’ is currently on view at 421.


Local Perspectives: Film Screening Program with Arab Film Studios

August 27 

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Open to all 



This summer, 421 presents a film screening program of award-winning new works produced and directed by filmmakers based in the UAE. The program, which is organized in partnership with the Arab Film Studios, features five short films in the documentary and narrative genres, exploring creative and artistic expression through personal and collective histories. The films that will be screened include Unspoken directed by Samia Badih; Made of Clay directed by Fayssal Bin Sahli; The Absentees, directed by Tanya Daood; The Death of Mr. Tamimi’s Foot, directed by John Haddad; As if the King, directed by Fahad Hussein; Ranapakhara, directed by Swapna Kurup; and The Moonlight Rider, directed by Philip Rachid.


Arab Film Studios Program is an initiative by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, home to the region’s aspiring filmmakers, giving them the guidance, skills, and support to bring their dreams to the big screen. AFS is raising the profile of the UAE’s rapidly evolving film industry, positioning Abu Dhabi as a creative hub for the region, and helping the region’s next generation of filmmakers to get behind the camera and tell their stories. 


Summer Soliloquies: A Writers’ Soiree

Date: September 9, 2023

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm 

Open to all 

Free admission


Join us on Saturday, September 9 for our first-ever Writers’ Soirée!

A gathering for wordsmiths, to exchange writings, engage in readings, and connect over food.

This is the perfect chance to share your experiences, discover the inspiration you've been looking for, and exchange ideas while connecting with fellow writers who understand your unique journey.


Writers contributing to this event include Dima Abouzannad, Fatima Al Fardan, Reem Al Mubarak, Maitha Alomaira, Salem Alsuwaidi, Aathma Dious, Carlos Paez, Gregory Pardlo, Laila Soliman, and Jamie Zipfel.