UAE, 16 March 2019: Six major public artworks commissioned by Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 to celebrate people of determination were unveiled at Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, as part of the legacy of the Games, today.


Developed in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, the works have been created by six internationally renowned artists in a commissioning process managed by Abu Dhabi Art.


The works include a specially created wall mural made of ceramic tiles by Paris-based artist Etel Adnan, a sculpture by Korean artist Noh Jun featuring two figures holding the Olympic Torch together and a mirrored bridge crossing over a stainless-steel lake by Mehmet Ali Uysal.


The artworks will form part of a permanent exhibition, in the newly named Special Olympics Garden. The exhibition is designed to be a lasting reminder of the message of unity and inclusion that Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 helped to share across the UAE and the region.


This historic moment for Abu Dhabi will see the World Games held in the Middle East for the first time.


Tala Al Ramahi, Chief Strategy Officer, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 said: “Our aim is for the World Games to act as a catalyst for change, raising awareness of what people of determination can achieve and changing perceptions in society.


“It is vital that the legacy of the Games lives on long after the sports competitions have ended, ensuring inclusion and unity becomes a feature of everybody’s day to day lives.


“These public artworks will be a permanent reminder of the importance of the Special Olympics message, ensuring generations to come benefit from the legacy of hosting these global Games in the Middle East for the very first time.”


One of the participating artists Wael Shawky, who has created a carved wooden wall for the site, said: “I have always been fascinated by history - who frames it, who narrates it, the notion that there are multiple histories in any one moment but always one version that rises above the rest.


“The joy in Special Olympics is that everyone who participates is already a victor. Every single participant, in choosing to be part of the Games or part of the community behind the Games, conquers challenges, defines how their battles are framed, whilst recognising they are part of a far greater story - one of human determination, progression and bravery.”


The commissioned works also include a specially created wall mural made of ceramic tiles by Paris-based artist Etel Adnan, widely recognized as one of the foremost authors, poets and playwrights of her generation.


She said: “The World Games held in Abu Dhabi is an extremely important reminder that a human being is primarily a soul, a mind, a spirit, unified with a body, of course, and that both need equal attention. These athletes with their special determination give us hope for human nature. They give us more than they know. I designed this ceramic wall to celebrate the energy, the joy that we want to share with them.”


Korean sculpture artist, Noh Jun, has created a series of playful characters at the centre of which stand a young boy and girl holding the Flame of Hope together. Noh Jun said: “I hope my work can be a happy and heart-warming one for athletes from all over the world participating in the World Games and wish that the sculptures may be true friends and guardians for the athletes and all visitors to Abu Dhabi.”


Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal has created a steel mirror lake with a bridge across it entitled Affinity. He said: “I'm so honoured to have been given the opportunity by Abu Dhabi to build a bridge between the Special Olympics athletes and to reflect, both metaphorically and materially, their inclusion as drivers of local identity within the Abu Dhabi community.”


Other artists commissioned to create works for the Special Olympics commemoration site at Manarat Al Saadiyat include Pascale Marthine Tayou and Nadim Karam.


During the Games, the artists involved will also run workshops for people of determination to support inclusion and share with them ways to express themselves through art.

Sharan Sunner