Replaying the 90s at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
17 January – 13 June
Get your tickets HERE
Zemanna is a visual exploration of reinterpreted memories from the 1990s— dissecting, reflecting, and responding to a time of change, flux, and expansion. In this exhibition, artists were commissioned to present nine interactive installations that address the
remnants of the 1990s and how
they have contributed to this
present time. Through these
installations, the exhibition
reflects the vibrancy and density
of this time, showcasing the
surfacing of a community
undergoing rapid transformation.
This multiroom experience
highlights key characteristics of
that time such as the Volcano
Fountain, the re-rooting of
migrating families into the UAE,
and the role of pop culture,
media, and play. What led to the
1990’s and what did the 1990’s
The ten participating artists are: Afra
Al Dhaheri; Aisha Al Ahmadi; Alaa
Edris; Fadel Al Mheiri; Ghada Al
Sayegh and Maytha Al Shamsi;
Jumairy; Mays Albaik; Rawda Al
Ketbi; and Sree.
This exhibition is curated by Munira
Al Sayegh with Dirwaza Curatorial
Commissioned Artists & Installations
Of Hope, Home, and Hauntology
While time might be linear in nature, our recollection of it is anything but — rather it is a process of folding and unfolding experiences and sensory mnemonics that often end up creating recollections and heightened embodied experiences.
Proposed as an experiential video essay, artist Mays Albaik’s Of Hope, Home, and Hauntology draws a picture of the 1990s through the story of two Arab expats who arrived in the United Arab Emirates in 1991. Her project reflects the development of the country’s architectural environment.
The Volcano Fountain reflected the overwhelming and stylised aesthetic of the 1990s — the way many kids of that decade remember their childhood today, as a mass of colour, clunky technology and a serious dedication to play.
Artist Fadel Al Mheiri’s al-Burkan consists of everyday items such as a Sony Walkman, plastic lunch boxes, sticker books, comics and football boots that feel vintage now, but felt very modern in those days. This curation of specific objects transports us back to the space of our childhood and allows us to reflect on our relationships with these objects that, at one point, were the physical foundations of our lives.
Vaadaka is an installation consisting of two rooms and a telephone booth. These spaces are used as sites for encapsulating and restaging the memories, celebrations and mundanities of individuals who lived in and around the United Arab Emirates in the 1990s.
The spaces are at once an amalgamation of direct recreations, as well as interpretive reconstructions of what artist Sree imagines the 1990s were like.
Palimpsest-like in nature, the installation uses sonic references, interlaced scents and liveable rooms in order to invite the audience to interact, but more importantly, to inspect what life was like for people such as Sree in the 1990s — people who called the United Arab Emirates home.
Both rooms take a specific moment in Sree’s parents’ history as an architectural base and study, while superimposing various moments that happened in and around similar spaces in their lives.
By surrounding the rooms with negative space, this abstracts the walls of these rooms, to allow the viewer to inspect (through circumnavigation) and to interact (by respectfully ‘entering’ the room) with these otherwise personal and vulnerable home spaces.
The introduction of satellite television had a huge influence on society in the United Arab Emirates.
When artist Alaa Edris reflected on the last decade of the 20th century, she thought about how people were attached to their television sets, not quite unlike the attachment to smartphones today.
The quasi-sacred relationship, almost ritualistic in nature, was one that would sometimes lead to a detachment from reality.
It was transformative, revolutionary and a window into what was rapidly becoming a globalised world.
A satellite dish enabled access to news, culture, music and entertainment shows beyond the local channels. This media explosion and exposure to the ‘other’ was fast and did not come without some cultural resistance. Some people considered the ‘dish’ a threat to morality, while others revelled in the freedom it brought to their homes, albeit through a TV screen
Way before the ‘Hawas’ and ‘Nujoom’ TV channels, the cassette culture revolved around stores which no longer exist.
Rawdha Al Ketbi’s artistic practice visits abandoned places, and cassette tapes are a recurring find that she collects and saves.
In Past Voices, homes are abandoned along with silence but cassette tapes maintain the past through sound, taking us back to these stores that no longer exist.
The 90s Kid
Ready to be a kid again? Artists
Ghada Al Sayegh and Maytha Al
Shamsi have carefully curated
these magical Barbie-like box time
capsules, inspired by the 1990’s
Toys “R” Us stores and Action
Zone arcades of Abu Dhabi. The
artists explore the culture of
having fun and capture the
nostalgia of our childhood
This three-part instalment
includes two life size 'Barbie’
boxes as well as a cosy place to
relax in for a moment and watch
some of your favourite cartoons.
They have aspired to emulate the
feeling of being a carefree and
creative kid with ‘all the time in the
world’ to play games and indulge
in our imagination.
Outside In is a ‘snapshot’ of a memory that is both specific and familiar to many. Artist Aisha Al Ahmadi uses sand from a residential area in Mirdif, Dubai, which was once played in, and create a makeshift football field similar to those found in neighbourhoods across the United Arab Emirates in the 1990s.
Objects in this exhibit are typical of those found in the interior and exterior spaces of houses in the country during the 1990s. The low hum of a fan, the glow of a space heater, a glass window and sliding door covered with old newspapers and magazines — these bring the viewer back to how life was in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the 20th century.
The ‘indoor’ football field and the inverted TV, with footage from several channels playing movies, music and news footage from sources such as the Cartoon Network, CNN and The Truman Show, recall the 1990s and blur the distinction between inside and outside.
Fwalat Al Aser
While pillow forts are universal, the Takya pillows common in many childhood homes in the United Arab Emirates became a cultural signifier: little homes within one home, within another home.
In artist Afra Al Dhaheri’s installation, visitors can tap into their childhood, pick up a pillow and construct their own little safe havens, like building blocks.
The Mission: Halla Walla!
Inspired by the United Arab
Emirates’ ‘car cruising culture’ and
the cartoon Bumpety Boo, artist
Jumairy’s interactive sound sculpture
manifests itself in the form of a
Nissan Patrol possessed by a
The red and black of the installation
warns of danger, yet the Patrol’s
words seem to be pleading for help
and attention— words not to be
- A "green status" in Al Hosn application must be presented prior to entry.