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Mina Zayed: Reflections on Past Futures

6 February - 13 June
10:00 - 20:00

Mina Zayed: Reflections on Past Futures

Mina Zayed: Reflections on Past Futures


Please book your slot on our Visit page.


Gridded, vast, and distinctly utilitarian in scale and texture, Mina Zayed’s urban plan reflects the role it played as the principle trading gateway for Abu Dhabi. The area was instrumental in the Capital’s growth, and the development of its culture, both material and anthropological. Beyond its infrastructural significance, the area is cemented in the memory of the capital’s inhabitants as a hub of communal spaces— a co-op, a large toy store, a popular arcade, a wedding hall, a fish market, an agricultural market, and a vibrant and colorful fruits and vegetables market, spaces that continue to flourish to this day.


Even before the retirement of most warehouses that began in 2012, its inhabitants had grown more diverse. As the spaces themselves emptied of tradespeople and stacked pallets of contemporary commodities, housing instead an organic explosion of flowering shrubs growing by drainage lines, and dozens of kittens flitting through bends in corrugated steel, and a market thriving with regulars and transient inhabitants. Today, a brief walk through Mina Zayed’s rows of warehouses finds evidence not of desertion, but of a space teeming with lives it continues to influence. 


It is this context of suspended existence that each of the eleven artists explore. Through photography, film, mixed-media installations and in a mix of documentary, poetic, and the comic, the artists invite reflection and critique of the constant conditions of change, carving out moments of pause, exploring themes of capitalism and migration, identity and being, consumption and sustainability, and the ever-changing landscape of construction and renewal in the Emirates. 


As the plans for adaptive reuse of the area break ground, this exhibition celebrates not only what Mina Zayed has historically been, nor merely what its potential future may be, but what Mina Zayed is now. It explores and honors the lives and livelihoods it continues to support today, those who may soon find their surroundings drastically changed.

This exhibition is the result of a mentorship program in partnership and collaboration with Gulf Photo Plus, which began in February 2020. Participants were supported by a pedagogical structure that guided them through concept and ideation and towards execution, interpretation, and display.


For a deeper dive into the exhibition and the projects on display, check out the following essays:

- Reflections on Place, Pace, and Memory by Finn Murray-Jones

- A Chair Between Us by Mona Ayyash