The second exhibition of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection, The Creative Act: Performance• Process • Presence, at Manarat Al Saadiyat will bring together artists of different nationalities and generations who have emphasised performance, process, and human presence in their practice, offering a transcultural perspective on these defining aspects of contemporary art. The Creative Act: Performance• Process• Presence follows the 2014 exhibition Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection, which welcomed more than 90,000 visitors and presented artworks from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi collection for the first time.
The Creative Act exhibition features more than 25 works in a variety of media—installation, painting, photography, sculpture, video, and works on paper, representing more than 18 artists. The exhibition will focus on the related themes of performance, process, and presence, which frame the exhibition’s curatorial narrative:
Performances can unfold in a given time and place, remaining afterward as recordings and documentations, and they can serve primarily as the means for creating discrete objects. Since the 1960s, many artists have adopted performative practices, sometimes serving as the central protagonist and undertaking carefully choreographed or spontaneous actions, and other times functioning as directors by providing instructions to participants. These aspects will be explored in The Creative Act, through works by artists such as Rasheed Araeen and Mohammed Kazem.
The exhibition will bring together artworks that emphasise the act of creation and will feature photographs, films, videos, and archival documentation that will animate the methodology, inspiration, and innovation of the included artists. Many of the artists stress the importance of process, producing works that reveal how they were made, that forefront materiality, and that allow for transformation over time or in response to viewer interaction. Their art and related archival materials will bring to life the dynamic working methods of artists such as Shiraga Kazuo and Tanaka Atsuko, who were associated with the Gutai Art Association (Japan, 1954–1972). The Creative Act also will feature another group of 1960s pioneers, among them Niki de Saint Phalle and Günther Uecker, who are known for their development of experimental approaches that involve the use of ostensibly destructive techniques and everyday materials to comment on contemporary society. The section will also feature an artwork by Anish Kapoor who is known for his large-scale geometric and biomorphic sculptures reminiscent of nature and living organisms.
The Creative Act also will delve into the theme of human presence, manifested by the appearance of the artist or others in the artworks as well as visible traces of the physical acts undertaken to realise them. Three immersive installations particularly exemplify this aspect. Works on paper and a video installation by Susan Hefunaexamine similarities between the choreography of dance and people’s everyday movements as they traverse city streets.
The Creative Act: Performance• Process• Presence is curated by Valerie Hillings, Ph.D., Curator and Manager, Curatorial Affairs, Abu Dhabi Project; Sasha Kalter-Wasserman, Assistant Curator, Abu Dhabi Project; with Sarah Dwider, Curatorial Assistant, Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; and Maisa Al Qassimi, Head of Programmes - Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, with Muneera Al Sayegh, Programmes Officer - Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.