Expo 2020 Dubai: Stunning permanent sculpture unveiled Filed on July 4, 2021
Chimera © Monira Al Qadiri 2021. Commissioned by, and collection of, Expo 2020 Dubai

The mega event’s Public Art Programme brings together 11 leading artists from the UAE, region and the world.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Public Art Programme has unveiled its first permanent artwork. The gigantic iridescent, oil drill-shaped sculpture was created by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri.

The mega event’s Public Art Programme brings together 11 leading artists from the UAE, region and the world.


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Alongside Al Qadiri, the commissioned artists are Hamra Abbas, Afra Al Dhaheri, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Abdullah Al Saadi, Asma Belhamar, Olafur Eliasson, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Khalil Rabah, Yinka Shonibare and Haegue Yang.

The 11 contemporary artworks will form a creative journey around Expo 2020’s public spaces and will live on as part of the future city of District 2020.

They will be located across the Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability districts and Expo 2020’s two parks.

“As the first curated permanent open-air art exhibition in the UAE, it will leave a lasting impact as part of the next World Expo’s legacy, provide an exciting addition to the UAE’s vibrant and thriving artistic scene, and boost Dubai’s position on the global cultural map,” a Press statement from the Expo 2020 team said.

The Public Art Programme takes inspiration from the famous Arab mathematician, astronomer, and physicist Ibn Al Haytham’s seminal work, Book of Optics (c. 11th century).

Ibn Al Haytham has been called “the father of modern optics” for his significant theories and foundational principles of optics and visual perception.

The concept of the programme provides a prism to view contemporary art creations. It also offers context that allows an exploration of the philosophical aspect of Ibn Al Haytham’s theories on visual perception, “including his definitions of vision, recognition and the impossibility of envisioning a full picture of reality within oneself, without the power of imagination”.


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Tarek Abou El Fetouh, public art curator, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the Public Art Programme with Chimera by artist Monira Al Qadiri. Her bold sculpture with its magnified size and reflective colour makes it seem like a futuristic creature from outer space. Through this sculpture, the artist attempts to merge the pre- and post-oil eras into one body.

“She creates aesthetic connections between pearls and oil, through their colour, materiality, symbolism, ecology and economy in order to reimagine the past, present and future of the wider Gulf region.”

“With 191 participating countries showcasing their arts and creativity, Expo 2020 will offer an unmissable opportunity for the public to discover a unique global collection of galleries and exhibitions in one place, while the Public Art Programme presents never-before-seen artworks for visitors to engage with during the next World Expo and beyond.”

Expo 2020 will run from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, inviting visitors from every corner of the globe.

Staff Reporter

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