Film partnerships News

‘Cinemas in the UAE’ exhibition by Emirati artist depicts bygone film culture

Manama Ajman Cinema, 2014 /Courtesy of the artist and The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, the university’s academic museum-gallery, has announced a new exhibition titled: ‘Cinemas in the UAE’ by Emirati artist and photographer Ammar Al Attar that explores the often unknown or overlooked stories of cultural practices around film and cinema-going in the UAE. The exhibition is open till November 5, 2018 at The Project Space, The Arts Center, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

In ‘Cinemas in the UAE’, Emirati artist Ammar Al Attar explores cultural practices such as the weekly family ritual of attending the cinema, or the posters that exhibitors use to promote films for diverse audiences, offering us a glimpse into the history of film culture and theatrical film exhibition. He provides an account of cinema culture in the UAE and Gulf, going back to Al Mahatta, Sharjah, 1948, and the opening of the Royal Air Force Cinema, and bringing forth a wide range of stories which are often not acknowledged and in many cases unknown.

Al Attar reworks images from movie posters, film prints, and shipping and box-office receipts for popular films from South Asia, the Middle East, and Hollywood, to convey the rich intercultural movie-going traditions of the UAE. He complements this with salvaged exhibitor paraphernalia, such as a slide projector and glass slides used to announce audience etiquette or advertise local businesses.