The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery’s fall exhibition, Blane De St. Croix: Horizon, will open on October 3, unveiling a series of newly commissioned sculptures responding to the UAE’s landscape. The artist has spent the last year studying the UAE’s natural environment as part of a residency at The NYUAD Art Gallery, in the lead up to COP28. He worked closely with faculty and interviewed resident scientists and scholars, producing a series of interview films to accompany the exhibition.
For his first exhibition in the Gulf, The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery has commissioned four major new works. One of these is Salt Lake Excerpt, a project that was developed in collaboration with award-winning theater director and NYUAD Arts Professor of Theater Joanna Settle. Together, the two artists are creating a 150-square-meter sculptural installation that gently moves with light and sound. Inspired by the salt lakes “sabkhas” and estuaries of the UAE, the sculpture is made from at least 50,000 plastic water bottles, in the form of PET flakes, a product of the plastic recycling process.
The three other commissions developed during the artist’s residency include a series of “infinite landscapes” based on the UAE’s deserts. This work was developed out of research exchange with NYUAD’s Research Visualization and Fabrication lab, and close work with the lab’s Assistant Director Jumaanah Alhashemi, who is also a transdisciplinary artist, designer, and researcher.
During his time studying the UAE, De St. Croix was announced as Co-PI (Principal Investigator) on a project funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Together with two climate scientists and a curator, he will produce work around the impact of climate change on Yukon Arctic Indigenous communities.
Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison, who curated the exhibition, commented: “The NSF award is in keeping with the nature of this artist’s work. We’re delighted that he has applied this same kind of rigor to his trips to the UAE over the past year. Having been to countless other powerful environments, from the Gobi Desert to the Arctic Circle, the desert here offers him new ways of seeing the interconnected challenges that face us with regards to the environment. We are excited that his collaborations with our faculty have resulted in this new body of work.”
She added: “In a sense, this exhibition not only reflects the UAE landscape, but also the intellectual landscape of our university and Abu Dhabi. These perspectives are valuable as COP28 approaches and we at NYU Abu Dhabi contribute to the debate around climate change solutions. We hope audiences will find this a vital new experience, as one of the defining characteristics of The Art Gallery is that each project is a new adventure that is much broader than any single curatorial framework or narrative.”
The exhibition is being held in the same period that NYU Abu Dhabi is chairing the Universities Climate Network (UCN). Comprising UAE-based universities and higher education institutions, the UCN collaborates on facilitating dialogues, workshops, public events, policy briefs, and youth participation in the lead up to and beyond COP28.
Blane De St. Croix: Horizon opens with a reception at 6pm on October 3 and runs through January 14, 2024, from Tuesday through Sunday, 12-8pm.
Press release from NYUAD Art Gallery