Community project at Expo 2020 to build a coral reef for hammour

When Expo 2020 Dubai opens in October, you can be part of a movement and help build an ‘ever-growing’ 3D printed coral reef to raise awareness of the UAE’s marine life.

Ahmed Al Enezi, senior director of arts and culture at the Expo, said the organized community art project will bring together different segments of the community – including school children, fishermen, scientists, artists and a number number of institutions – to build a coral reef or a house for the hammour, an orange-spotted grouper and one of the most over-exploited species in the United Arab Emirates. Coral reefs are its main habitat and due to the destruction of the marine ecosystem, their existence is also threatened.

Famous Australian artist Sue Ryan will create the centerpiece of the sculpture titled “Hammour House”, made up of fishing nets thrown into the ocean and other marine debris.

“[The sculpture] resulted from Ryan’s pre-Covid-19 lockdown visit to the UAE, where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the UAE’s natural environment, as well as engage with the local fishing community “Said Al Enezi.

“This will be complemented by an installation inspired by the ever-changing coral reefs, (to be created) from visitors who attend our art workshops for 3D printed sculptures,” he added.

“If they come back to the Expo two weeks after attending the workshop, they will be able to spot their ‘corals’. Students will also present a tapestry depicting marine life.

Al Enezi said that one of Hammour House’s main inspirations was the story of The Thousand and One Nights of Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Mermaid.

“In this story, the fisherman forms a friendship with a newt, who looks exactly like him, but has a fishtail. The fisherman discovers underwater life and begins to understand that fish are not only a source of food, but an organism subject to complex systems and hierarchies similar to those found on land.

Likewise, Hammour House uses humanizing elements, such as describing coral reefs as a “home” for hammour fish in the UAE, urging people to protect precious marine life.

A sculpture made of ghost nets

Australian artist Sue Ryan will immerse Expo visitors into an underwater world through her sculpture Hammour House, which weaves sustainable fishing into local stories.

When asked why she chose abandoned fishing nets – also known as ghost nets – for her art project, Ryan said, “I didn’t choose ghost nets. They chose me.

“Ghost nets are fishing nets lost and / or abandoned at sea. They are carried by currents and tides and can travel in the ocean for many years. Some nets are miles long and can weigh tons. They are called ghost nets because once adrift they continue to do what they were designed to do, as if they were fishing with invisible hands, ”said Ryan, who has worked with indigenous communities in Australia. and used ghost nets for art projects.

These nets, which are very difficult to see in the water and appear as ghostly shapes, have a devastating effect on marine life and the environment.

For his research at Hammour House, Ryan visited the Emirates and had the chance to immerse himself in the environment of the United Arab Emirates.

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