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Conversation about City EastWest

  • A+D Museum 900 East 4th Street Los Angeles, CA, 90013 United States (map)
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Cities across the world are more than ever linked through various media networks, whether socially, culturally or economically. Dubai and Los Angeles not only share characteristics in the natural and physical environment, but also in the high ‘media presence’, echoing the importance of storytelling.

The conversation brings together vital voices of Los Angeles’ and Dubai’s creative industry exploring the notion of global perception and its impact on city development. The project ‘City EastWest’ aims to develop a narrative that connects the two urban creative hubs between East and West.

Hosted by the A+D Museum, visual artist/educator Janet Bellotto and architect/educator Adina Hempel from Dubai will converse with local architect/educator Wes Jones and urban/media historian and author Norman Klein.


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About City EastWest

Today cities across the world are more than ever linked through various media networks, whether socially, culturally or economically. Dubai and Los Angeles not only share many characteristics in the natural and physical environment, but also in the history of their development and global perception. Both cities are well known and have a high ‘media presence’, echoing the importance of storytelling—Los Angeles being hugely impacted by the film industry and Dubai by the marketing industry. The notion of storytelling is a reminder of past traditions and culture in the case of Dubai (UAE) and a result of the consistent longing of today’s society for constructed narratives in form of films, in the case of Los Angeles (USA).

Located at the opposite ends in the ‘East’ and the ‘West,’ Dubai and Los Angeles have become hubs for creative industries, endless sources of inspiration and utopian urban visions and places of cultural exchange. Two cities between past and present consistently project possible futures, driven by the advancement of media technology. City EastWest links the two centers to a global imagined city, using narratives and lived memories of Los Angeles and Dubai to read today’s built environment and project future possibilities.

The project City EastWest, is a multi-year research project funded by Zayed University (UAE) and part of the research cluster ‘Pattern in the MENA region.’ The project aims to investigate the impact media (e.g. film, social media and advertising), has on the development of specific districts within these cities and the growth of their creative industries. The creative industries, such as art, design, film, fashion, architecture, advertising, have been a key element to promote understanding and attract investment into culture and ultimately the city. Building a narrative that not only allows to read the urban fabric, but also connects the two creative industries of both cities to a new city, the City EastWest.

Project Team

Janet Bellotto is a Full Professor of Visual Arts and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises at Zayed University/UAE. She is an artist, writer and educator from Toronto, with an international career that spans over 20 years. A curator and Associate Editor of Tribe—a magazine of photography and new media from the Arab world—she was the Artistic Director for the 20th International Symposium on Electronic Art, hosted by Zayed University in Dubai. An initiator in various collaborations and a curator, she engages projects that promote cultural exchange. Her practice in Sculpture/Installation is created using a wide range of media including photography, video, and performance, which examines the ever-changing world connected to the sea, oceans, marine life and islands. Her work has been exhibited in a variety of collective, group, and solo exhibitions, as well as in international art fairs. Her major research project on Sable Island was published in 2017 by lightbox, Venice, with MAP Office in the book Our Ocean Guide, 2017.

Adina Hempel is an architect, urban researcher and Assistant Professor at the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises at the Zayed University/UAE. Her research investigates the impact of trade and the cross-cultural influences on urban development in the UAE. She has conducted extensive research on the modern architectural history of the UAE and was appointed Head of Research for the 2014 National Pavilion of the UAE at La Biennale di Venezia. Between 2016 and 2017 she served as Head of Research for GSM Project Mena on the Shindagha Historic District Wave 1. As an architect, Adina Hempel has worked on large-scale public projects, such as the National Sports City Stadium in Singapore, a future urban vision plan for Dubai, a proposal for Hudariyat Island in Abu Dhabi, along with the exhibition development for the Documenta 2007 in Kassel and the installation of the National Pavilion of the UAE at the Qasr of Hosn Fort Festival in 2015. Her work has been exhibited presented at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2009 as well as the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 and 2018. She received a Dipl.-Ing. of Architecture (Master in Architecture) from the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, studied at Columbia University New York and New York Film Academy.