421 presents its Spring 2023 Program: Savour the Sun and the Moon

The spring season presents two new major exhibitions and a wide range of workshops and events 

web-banner-3-edit-ratio-644a59b1e81d7.png (Gallery)


421 presents its Spring 2023 Program: Savour the Sun and the Moon. Running until June 21, the spring season presents two major exhibitions and a wide-ranging program of workshops and special events that aim to bring people together to slow down and collectively contemplate. It features supper clubs, cultural tours, and excursions that offer intuitive and perceptible ways to contribute to shared new beginnings.  


The Winter 2023 exhibitions And The Mirrors Are Many and Mahshid Rafiei: Of Mythic Proportions will also continue into the spring season and will be on view until May 8. Opening on May 18, the Spring 2023 exhibitions include Nasir Nasrallah’s new solo exhibition Poetic of Machines, which showcases over 30 new works that were commissioned by 421 as part of the Artistic Development Program, and New York University Abu Dhabi’s SYNTHESIS: 2023 MFA Graduate Show which presents the work of this year’s graduating cohort in the department for Art and Media. 


Upcoming Exhibitions


Nasir Nasrallah: Poetic of  Machines

Part of the Artistic Development Program 

Gallery 1

On view from May 18 to August 27 


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 recipient of 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 from May 18 to August 27


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. 


Current Exhibitions


And The Mirrors Are Many

On view until May 8, 2023


And The Mirrors Are Many investigates institutional repositories of memory–the museum, the memorial and the archive–and poses the questions: why do we remember, and how? By examining these contemporary modes of remembering, the exhibition considers the relationship between remembrance and history and reflects on the aesthetics, techniques, provenance, and language that are deployed in the process of memory-making. 


Referencing the Mahmoud Darwish poem, On the Last Evening on This Earth, in the title, this exhibition asks us to examine our shared histories through the lens of ongoing catastrophe that spans human history. 


And The Mirrors Are Many explores the persistence of catastrophic events that continue to inscribe upon the present through traces, armatures, and echoes. Featuring annotations spread across the gallery spaces and new commissions, And The Mirrors Are Many spans a myriad of mediums, from sculpture, video, and installation, to photography, printmaking and textiles.  


Contributing artists in this exhibition are Maitha Abdalla, Rand Abdul Jabbar, Reem Al Menhali, Emii Alrai, Moza Almatrooshi, Nasser Alzayani, Hadeyeh Badri, Rohini Devasher, Vikram Divecha, Mirella Salamé, Sara Smarrazzo, Dima Srouji, and Fatima Uzdenova.  


And The Mirrors Are Many is curated by Mona Al-Jadir and emerged from a year-long journey as part of the 421 Curatorial Development Exhibition Program in collaboration with The Bombay Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR) and with mentorship from curator Sabih Ahmed.  


Mahshid Rafiei: Of Mythic Proportions

On view until May 8, 2023


The first solo exhibition presenting the work of Mahshid Rafiei, Of Mythic Proportions, is a large-scale installation of five newly commissioned works. This installation, which takes up the entire space in Gallery 1, suggests that illusion is not the antithesis of truth but a co-conspirator, guiding us in a world of loss. Of Mythic Proportions includes sculptures and sound pieces where elements are intentionally hidden to offer a deceptive reading, and asks us to consider how art provides a stand-in for what might be missing. 


Through this play on illusion and perception, Rafiei explores the myth of origin and the aesthetic processes of its conservation. One of Mahshid Rafiei’s inspirations for this exhibition was a 19th-century poem by a Bedouin woman. To assuage the grief of a she-camel in her flock who had lost a calf, she inflated the skin of the camel’s dead baby, so that the animal might believe it was still alive.


This exhibition is a result of the 421 Artistic Development Exhibition Program, which is organized in collaboration with pedagogical partner The Institute of Emerging Art. Of Mythic Proportions is the inaugural presentation of the 2023 edition of the program. 


Ongoing Program


Chef Kuv’s Supper Club

Dates: 15 April, 27 May and on 17 June 2023

Time: 7 PM to 9 PM 


Join us around the table for a sensorial and flavourful supper club experience with Chef Kuv! This dinner table takes you through otherworldly menus and expressive plates. The supper club is known for the secret menus revealed only to the participants joining the experience. 


Chef Kuv, an architect from the UK, pioneered the supper club dining culture in the UAE, having kickstarted the movement about five years ago. He has a loyal following of veteran members of Kuv's Secret Supper Club, who have enjoyed over 100 menus featuring cuisines from all over the world. Chef Kuv's approach to culinary experiences is focused on community-building and communal sharing, strongly emphasizing nutrition and depth of flavors backed by thorough research.


Revision: An Alternative Printing Session

Dates: 29 April 2023 

Time: 3 PM to 6 PM


Get ready for an exciting workshop with artist Dima Abou Zannad, where you'll learn alternative techniques for preserving, documenting, and archiving memories! Starting with personal memories and histories as a launching point, this workshop will take you on a journey of creative exploration. In the first part, you'll dive into the artist's practice and focus on "tracing" before embarking on a tracing exercise where you'll sketch or follow a memory. The second part of the workshop will take you outdoors, where you'll transform your tracings into sun prints or cyanotypes - a traditional yet alternative form of printing. Don't miss this opportunity to unleash your creativity and learn something new!


This workshop is open to participants ages 18 and over. There are no prerequisites to joining this workshop.


Winter 2023 Exhibitions closing program 

Date: May 8 

Time: 5 PM to 9 PM 


Join us for the Winter 2023 Exhibitions closing program featuring tours, a talk, and a performance that give audiences a final chance to view and experience the exhibitions And The Mirrors Are Many and Mahshid Rafiei: Of Mythic Proportions. The closing talk, titled Residue as Witness, will be moderated by Moderated by Mays Albaik (Programs and Community Initiatives Manager at 421) and includes speakers Rand Abduljabbar (artist), Sabih Ahmed (Associate Director and Curator at Ishara Art Foundation), and Mona Al-Jadir (curator). The talk will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience. 


The Living Archive

Date: Started on 5 February and will continue till May 31 

We invite visitors to head to our front desk to pick up fruit, vegetable and herb seeds – placed inside recycled seed paper – to be planted in the pots in Courtyard 2. Visitors can write a meaningful memory on the seed paper, prior to planting it. This collaborative community installation accumulates and grows over time, carrying our collective memories. An unofficial archive of this project will be published when the season concludes. Participation is free and open to all.

The Living Archive explores the relationship between memory and life: it asks you to relinquish a memory onto a seed, materialize it and write it down, then letting it go to its next life by planting it. When the words are released into the earth, you are relieved of a memory and another life is born because of it. Like us, our memories too can change, grow, and become something new.

The seed paper was conceptualized and produced by Mohamed Rowaizak. Rowaizak is an Architect at Schlumberger and the founder of the Pilgrim Series for limited edition handmade Arabic craft products. He is a co-founder of MRM, a collaborative design studio exploring crossovers between local craft and technology. Rowaizak graduated with a B.Arch from the American University of Sharjah, where he received the MAD award.


Curator-led tour of 'And The Mirrors Are Many'

Date: 29 April 2023 

Time: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM

Join exhibition curator Mona Al-Jadir for a special guided tour of the major exhibition And The Mirrors Are Many. This 45-minute tour will include an in-depth discussion around the themes of the exhibition and an overview of the artworks on display. The tour also includes a performance by artist Reem Almenahli.

Free. Booking is required through the link below: https://calendly.com/421-online/exhibition-tours-for-adults-clone?month=2023-02 


Performance by Reem Almenhali

Date: Until 8 May 2023 

In this performance, Reem Al Menhali presents a series of poems of varying lengths, tones, and rhythms to reimagine historical time-keeping. Assuming the position of the ‘Person Standing Outside Time’ in her writing and when observing her own life, Al Menhali creates a fictional calendar that fuses the mythical, the real, and the imaginary. This performance is commissioned by 421. 


View and download the program press kit on this link.