Lest We Forget: Emirati Adornment


February 1, 2017

February 4–August 27, 2017

Mina Zayed 
Abu Dhabi 
United Arab Emirates


From February 4 audiences are invited to explore Emirati culture at Warehouse421 through a beautiful, compelling exhibition of “tangible” and “intangible” forms of Emirati adornment. Lest We Forget: Emirati Adornment presents personal objects of adornment shared by Emirati contributors along the memories, reflections and works of art that these objects inspire. Bridging the gap between past and current generations, the exhibition will feature both historical and contemporary examples and practices. 

The exhibition features “tangible,” concrete, and physically lasting forms of adornment, including garments, burqa, jewelry, weapons, attributes, accessories, and footwear. It also considers “intangible” adornment that is temporal and impermanent—the enhancement of the face and body through the application of evanescent henna, kohl, fragrance, and cosmetics, as well as through grooming, nail care, and hairstyles. The exhibition acknowledges in adornment valuable “intangible” cultural heritage: the creative spirit, knowledge, skills and aesthetic sensibilities that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Commenting on the exhibition, Khulood Khaldoon Al Atiyat, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation said: “Warehouse421 is proud to support this important initiative and offer a platform for Lest We Forget: Emirati Adornment to reach a broad audience across the UAE and share our nation’s heritage.” 

Dr. Michele Bambling, Creative Director of Lest We Forget commented: “The theme of adornment has universal significance and stirs memories in all of us. The will to adorn is a deep-rooted human inclination to beautify, ornament, embellish and make something or someone more attractive. The reasons for enhancing one’s appearance through adornment are profound. Modes of adornment can be culturally specific as well as personal. The exhibition presents an original, heartfelt exploration of Emirati identity, aesthetics and cultural history conveyed through modes of adornment.”

An innovative community-based national initiative supported by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Lest We Forget seeks to document Emirati vernacular heritage and cultural identity and share it through exhibitions and publications.  

Lest We Forget: Emirati Adornment will open on February 4 and will run until August 27. For more information on Warehouse421, the Lest We Forget exhibition and other upcoming events, visit www.warehouse421.ae

About Warehouse421
Warehouse421 is a thriving hub for art and culture, design and creativity, performance and music in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s historic Mina Zayed district. Converted from two former industrial warehouses, Warehouse421 showcases the works of local, regional and international artists, designers and performers throughout the year, while providing a rare glimpse into the processes and techniques behind their creations. 

Warehouse421 also encourages members of the public to explore their own creativity through interactive initiatives such as the popular Wednesdays at the Warehouse program of talks, workshops, film screenings and performances. Designed by the respected Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Warehouse421 is supported by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation as part of its mission to facilitate wider engagement with the arts and culture in the UAE.

About Lest We Forget
Lest We Forget is an innovative grassroots archival initiative that digitally archives, documents and researches the vernacular photography, material culture and oral histories of the first generations of UAE Nationals and their descendants. Lest We Forget works with a growing network of university students, interns and community members to realize our integrated archival, exhibition, publishing and programming projects. Emirati Adornment: Tangible and Intangible is the third in a series of Lest We Forget seminal archival studies that explore vernacular Emirati culture, past and present. It is preceded by the books and exhibitions: Emirati Family Photographs 1950–1999 (2015, Warehouse 421, Abu Dhabi) and Structures of Memory in the UAE (2014, National Pavilion UAE, Venice Architecture Biennale). Established in 2013, Lest We Forget is a grantee under the auspices of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.