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Art Jameel Commissions Theories of Imagination for Dubai Public Art Initiative

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Abdulla Buhijji and Noor Alwan of Theories of Imagination (TOFI). Image courtesy of the artists

Art Jameel has announced the commission of UAE-based design collective Theories of Imagination (TOFI), consisting of artist-architect Noor Alwan and artist-designer Abdulla Buhijji, for the Jaddaf Playscape as part of the Dubai Public Art initiative led by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

TOFI was selected from nearly 100 applicants by an esteemed jury of local and international art professionals, architects and curators, including Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of the Highline NYC and curator of the 59th Venice Biennale of Art 2022; Wael Al Awar, founder and principal architect of waiwai and co-curator of the UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2021; Amal Khalaf, projects curator at the Serpentine Gallery, London, and director of Cubbit Gallery, London; and Nora Razian, deputy director and head of exhibitions at Art Jameel.

The jury also awarded special mentions to three shortlisted proposals by designer Carla Baz, designer and multidisciplinary artist Evan Collisson, and artist-designer duo Jumairy and Lina Younes.

Entitled I Dreamt of a City Everyone Calls Home, TOFI’s proposal for the Jaddaf Playscape is set to open to the public in autumn 2023 in the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park next to Jameel Arts Centre, for an initial intended duration of four years.

The proposal consists of a large-scale interactive sculpture that functions as a playground for all ages. Responding to the surrounding architecture and landscape of the wider Jaddaf area, the work pays homage to its history as a boatyard that connected different cultures with Dubai and culminated in the city’s present-day multi-cultural community.

“Our concept strives to create a space that fosters inclusivity and creativity, a space that’s inviting, enticing and engaging for all ages of all walks of life,” said TOFI. “We strongly believe in the impact that urban play can leave on cities and our need for these playful informal spaces.”

The commission is part of Dubai Culture’s new Dubai Public Art initiative, a multi-year project aimed at facilitating the creation of public art installations by UAE-based artists. Art Jameel is a curatorial partner, working alongside Art Dubai, Tashkeel, Alserkal and Akaas Visual Arts to devise and curate public art commissions.

Earlier this year, Dubai Public Art announced five shortlisted artists for its first commission in partnership with Art Dubai: Afra Al Dhaheri, Asma Belhamar, Khalid Al Banna, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim and Shaikha Al Mazrou.