Abu Dhabi exhibition celebrates sustainability ahead of COP28

It offers a comprehensive outlook of De St. Croix's work, drawing from ecosystems across the globe, but it is the UAE that takes centre stage

by

Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Infinite Landscape (series), 2023. Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. Supplied photos.
Infinite Landscape (series), 2023. Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. Supplied photos.

Published: Tue 10 Oct 2023, 2:27 PM

Last updated: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 1:19 PM

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery has unveiled an exhibition that transcends conventional boundaries, weaving together art, science, and sustainability.

The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, exterior view.
The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, exterior view.

Blane De St. Croix: Horizon, inspired by the UAE's landscape, takes viewers on a transformative journey as the nation prepares to host COP28 and celebrates the Year of Sustainability.


Installation view of Blane De St. Croix: Horizon at The NYUAD Art Gallery, 2023. Foreground: Lava Bed (from the Kilauea series), 2015 Background: Arctic Shoreline, Svalbard Archipelago (series), 2014–2015
Installation view of Blane De St. Croix: Horizon at The NYUAD Art Gallery, 2023. Foreground: Lava Bed (from the Kilauea series), 2015 Background: Arctic Shoreline, Svalbard Archipelago (series), 2014–2015

Acclaimed artist and sculptor Blane De St. Croix embarked on a year-long residency at The Art Gallery, leading up to COP28. During this period, he delved into conversations with faculty members, locals and climate experts while actively engaging in dialogues on environmental issues.

The exhibition offers a comprehensive outlook of De St. Croix's work, drawing from ecosystems across the globe, but it is the UAE that takes centre stage. Among the major new works on display, "Salt Lake Excerpt " stands as the pinnacle of his collaboration with theatre artist Joanna Settle, an arts professor and associate dean at NYUAD. Inspired by the salt lakes, or "sabkhas" of the UAE, this piece is a fusion of light, sound, and sculpture, constructed from 50,000 recycled plastic water bottles.


Salt Lake Excerpt, UAE (detail), 2023 PET, fabric, screens, water, tanks, light, sound, wave makers, dimensions variable Sound Design, Sound System Design: João Menezes. Lighting Design: Simon Fraulo. Kawader Research Fellow: Fatema Al Fardan. Construction Design: Michael “Mick” Uveges. Voices: Fatema Al Fardan, Joanna Settle, Logan Settle Rishard, Maryam Alshehhi Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.
Salt Lake Excerpt, UAE (detail), 2023 PET, fabric, screens, water, tanks, light, sound, wave makers, dimensions variable Sound Design, Sound System Design: João Menezes. Lighting Design: Simon Fraulo. Kawader Research Fellow: Fatema Al Fardan. Construction Design: Michael “Mick” Uveges. Voices: Fatema Al Fardan, Joanna Settle, Logan Settle Rishard, Maryam Alshehhi Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

The exhibition also showcases an ‘Infinite landscapes’ series highlighting the UAE’s deserts. Another piece, ‘High peaks: Himachal’, depicts Mount Everest and other peaks, symbolizing climate change challenges based on dialogue with social sciences and humanities faculty researching the Himalayas.

Installation view of Blane De St. Croix: Horizon at The NYUAD Art Gallery, 2023. Foreground: High Peaks: Himachal (Snow Mountain) (detail), 2023
Installation view of Blane De St. Croix: Horizon at The NYUAD Art Gallery, 2023. Foreground: High Peaks: Himachal (Snow Mountain) (detail), 2023

"Art is a vital tool for investigating our place in the world, through the experience of all our senses when we enter an exhibition like this," said Maya Allison, executive director of The NYUAD Art Gallery.

Installation view of Blane De St. Croix: Horizon at The NYUAD Art Gallery, 2023. Over Ice, Svalbard, 2020 Cast white cotton paper, 381 × 411 x 15 cm
Installation view of Blane De St. Croix: Horizon at The NYUAD Art Gallery, 2023. Over Ice, Svalbard, 2020 Cast white cotton paper, 381 × 411 x 15 cm

NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann expressed the university's enthusiasm for the exhibition, stating, "As COP28 approaches, we are delighted to see many facets of our university programming aligned with the UAE's Year of Sustainability."

Transcontinental Divide (detail), 2020–2023 39 train cars, recycled foam, vinyl paste, acrylic paint, colored sand, eco-clear cast plastic, wood, plywood, foam, plastic, paint, branches, dirt, other natural and recycled material, dimensions variable Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.
Transcontinental Divide (detail), 2020–2023 39 train cars, recycled foam, vinyl paste, acrylic paint, colored sand, eco-clear cast plastic, wood, plywood, foam, plastic, paint, branches, dirt, other natural and recycled material, dimensions variable Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

Blane De St. Croix, reflecting on his journey, said: "Having travelled to many spectacular and inspiring, but ecologically fragile, environments, my studies of the equally beautiful UAE desert reinforced a truth that both artists and scientists tell us: our planet is deeply interconnected, as are the environmental challenges we face."

Transcontinental Divide (detail), 2020–2023 39 train cars, recycled foam, vinyl paste, acrylic paint, colored sand, eco-clear cast plastic, wood, plywood, foam, plastic, paint, branches, dirt, other natural and recycled material, dimensions variable Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.
Transcontinental Divide (detail), 2020–2023 39 train cars, recycled foam, vinyl paste, acrylic paint, colored sand, eco-clear cast plastic, wood, plywood, foam, plastic, paint, branches, dirt, other natural and recycled material, dimensions variable Commissioned by The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

NYU Abu Dhabi leads the Universities Climate Network (UCN) involving 31-UAE-based institutions of higher education. The network aims to promote discussions workshops, public events, and youth involvement related to COP28 and beyond.

The exhibition runs until January 14, 2024.

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