Recognising the positive impact of collaboration to support the creative industry, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is collaborating with MORROW collective, the UAE’s NFT curatorial initiative, to host an exhibition of non-fungible tokens (NFT) celebrating the UAE. The exhibition, titled 50/50, comprises 50 NFTs made by UAE-based artists, including Emirati artists Khalid Al Banna, Alia AlGaoud, and Dalal Ahmed, to mark the UAE’s 50th anniversary, and will be presented at Al Safa Art & Design Library starting 15 January 2021. This is the first exhibition of its kind to explicitly feature UAE-based artists.

An open call was held to identify the showcased works, and the diversity of the selections reflects the UAE’s multicultural society. The NFTs vary from 3D pieces to animation, from digital drawing to traditional painting, and from collages to photography. This is the first time that some of the artists have made NFTs, and the works cover a multitude of themes, representing powerful portraits of humanity, abstract musings on the human condition, light-heartedness, powerful messages, and an exercise in pure visual enjoyment.

The physical iteration of the exhibition bridges the gap between the traditional and the NFT art worlds by showing the pieces of art on digital screens. Of the 50 artworks, pieces by Marwan Shakarchi and Gigi Gorlova have already been sold, and an auction featuring three Emirati artists will take place at the end of this month.

Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, said: “Innovation and creativity go hand in hand towards supporting the emirate’s creative industry. NFTs are a commodity in the art world that are the result of a rapidly digitalising future, and through our collaboration with MORROW collective, we at Dubai Culture are embracing the use of innovative new solutions within the arts and culture space to support and retain local and UAE-based talent, attract creative individuals from around the world across the arts and culture sector, and make culture and art accessible to everyone, everywhere.”

Anna Seaman, curator at MORROW collective, said: “The UAE values tolerance, compassion and safety and it prides itself as a country in which everyone is welcome to make themselves at home. NFTs are a digital medium that is not restricted by boundaries – whether physical or geographical – and, therefore, in their own way, are a celebration of everyone. What better way to mark the 50th year of the UAE than with an exhibition of 50 NFTs?”

The 50/50 exhibition will run at Al Safa Art & Design Library from 15 January – 15 February 2022.

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