Seeing Through Light – A Trip Down Saadiyat Island

The first time my eyes laid on that over-lit billboard located along Sheikh Zayed Road, I felt a mix of hatred and delight. For one, I loathe light pollution and two, I got excited with what’s on the ad – a preview to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. We were in Manarat Al Saadiyat last year for Louvre’s preview and absolutely loved it. So we thought, this is a must see. Ahh, we’re beyond thrilled!

We did a mini trip to Manarat Al Saadiyat to check out Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection. There were tours available but we prefer to go there by ourselves. Besides, there is a free audio guide that we happily took advantage of.

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As the name of the exhibit suggests, it features works that use light as a medium. Light can be perceived and expressed in many ways thus, the exhibition being divided into five sections – Activated, Celestial, Perceptual, Reflected and Transcendent.

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Among the many works in Seeing Through Light, these are the top three that caught my attention:

1. Selected from Le Chemin des Roses [Path of Roses] (1995-2005) by Rachid Koraichi. A white wall was adorned with strips of black steel arranged in multiples of 7, believing the number is significant or something. When viewed upfront, it looks like a minimalist piece but when seen from the side, each piece corresponds to a word or something that was expressed in Arabic calligraphy. Light gets thrown in one direction and the steel works cast intricate shadows. I wish I could comprehend what was written but I think it was pretty interesting.

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2. Untitled (1968/2013) by Doug Wheeler. We were asked to put on shoe covers before entering a white square room with curved covers. On one side of the wall is a square lit with neon lights that tend to glow and get merged into the whiteness of the space. It created a different feeling, like being lifted or getting absorbed by the light. I don’t know if I made any sense with what I just said but it sure did brought a new experience to me. Photography is prohibited so I didn’t have a photo. But even if I took one, the feeling will never be the same. It was meant to be experienced.

3. Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2011) by Yayoi Kusama. This is my most favorite among all the works that after finishing the whole exhibit, I made another round of it to get to see this awesome room again. Amazing. Very, very amazing. It’s basically a small room with walls (and the ceiling, I guess) made with mirrors. We walked on a narrow path surrounded with water. And then the LED lights, suspended from the ceiling, twinkle and change their colors. The reflections on the walls and the water create an infinite space. The lights get multiplied as well, making the small room dazzling. Oh my, let me say it again – it’s soooo amazing!

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Seeing Through Light Exhibition will run until the 26th of March, 2015 at Manarat al Saadiyat.

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