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Nadim Samman is a curator and art historian based in Berlin. He studied philosophy at University College London before receiving his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. He co-founded the first Antarctic Biennale (2017) and the Antarctic Pavilion in Venice (2015–ongoing). In 2016, he curated the 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art and, in 2012, the 4th Marrakech Biennale with Carson Chan. Other major projects include “Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition,” a site-specific exhibition on the remote Paciific Island of Isla del Coco, and “Rare Earth” at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemoporary in Vienna. In 2014, Foreign Policy Magazine named him among the “100 Leading Global Thinkers.” 

Samman’s program for AURORA 2018 and the theme ‘Future Worlds’ recast the streets and plaza around Dallas City Hall as an urban theatre—a theater whose play follows a simple script, first written in May 1968 and graffitied on city walls in Paris: “Under the paving stones, the beach.” It is an invocation that retains its power today, half a century later, through its invitation to discover another world, right here, where we least expect it. It is a spell (or a little bit of alchemy) that wills things to be different.

In this spirit, Samman’s program consisted of four distortions of everyday downtown moments—marshaling smoke, soap suds, speech, sirens, cars and killer whales. For one night only, City Hall billowed smoke; the Kay Bailey Convention Center was trasnported to freezing North Atlantic; someone, finally, told it like it is; and errors and car exhausts were redeemed in music. That, and more. But the next day? It wasn’t for Samman, nor his artists, to decide.


AURORA 2018 | Section Artworks:

Freisetzung by Fabian Knecht
continuous power by Simon Mullan
Dances with Whales (Keiko – Always on my Mind) by Magnús Siguardason & Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG)
Run Time Error by Simon Steen-Andersen
SO-High by So-So Topic