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|Abu Dhabi Art - case study|
|Written by Adam Proto|
|Monday, 21 November 2011 15:19|
Abu Dhabi Art Case Study
If anything the build of Abu Dhabi Art 2011 was a demonstration of how in the face of adversity and effective carnage it’s possible to pull an international standard art show out of the bag and create a show literally out of a sandy hole in the Desert.
The event this year was moved to Saadiyat Island in Abu Dahbi to a newly constructed venue called the UAE Pavilion which was brought from the China Expo to the UAE and rebuilt in under 5 months. I was contracted to do the consultation on the venue to make it ready as a purpose built venue for events and in particular Abu Dhabi Art, little did I know that we would be producing the first event and the handover period was a few days before the opening event.
We moved in 5 days before the show opened and construction was still in full swing with ceilings not even plastered let alone painted, there were no windows in the building because they were made the wrong size so that meant no air-conditioning. The lift and stairs to the second floor weren’t built, no house lighting and the toilets were - well let’s say that it was a very dark room that was more like a solitary punishment cell than somewhere one could retire to relieve one self. This was a real shame because knowing what I had taken on meant that the one thing I needed more than anything else was an available toilet!
Quietly it was dawning on me that this was a large sand dune I needed to climb and had to drag my team, suppliers and clients long with me. We had to build nearly 2000m of 3.5m high exhibition walling with a complicated truss system holding it all together, all this is a venue that we only had drawing for and no accurate measurements. Sure enough the building work and the 1000 labourers traipsing across the 7,000 sqm of carpet made mincemeat of the pristine look we were trying to achieve – at times we were taking 2 steps forward and about 1000 back, it was like herding cats!
We were building the exhibition so quickly that at one point we built one of the crew into the walls, we only realised when all the drilling and noise stopped and we heard him screaming for us not to leave him behind the wall for the duration of the show – We had to remove a whole section of wall to retrieve him, he was a happy man and made sure he stayed on the right side of the wall building for the rest of the build – made me chuckle….
Finally one of the crew said we could see light at the end of the tunnel, what they didn’t know was that that as just me with a torch and we still had a long way to go. The finishing was a long haul job which involved almost all the crew doing 48 hour shifts with no sleep or rest, time was running out and we had a colossal amount of work still to do, galleries were turning up to set up there booths and they were walking into what still looked like a building site – still no air-conditioning and as we all knew but never ever discussed – no air-con = no show
The final 24 hours involved an army of crew crawling all over the site fixing everything from skirting boards to roofs to the booths that had ordered them, and then came the “special orders” from the galleries who wanted their walls moved or the space re-arranged. This was about as welcome as a city banker at a demonstration outside St Pauls.
Finally, in came the cleaners, up went the gallery signage and branding, off came the plastic and within hours we had accomplished a miracle and the impossible all at the same time.
The event opened on time and with a few minor hiccups which in the great scheme of things were insignificant considering five days earlier we were in a cesspit of dust, scaffolding and broken spirits.
“It’s truly possible to accomplish the impossible and deliver a monumental challenge if you have the determination and belief in yourself and the team around you”
Trust in your Terbell mentors because they will give you the tools and ammunition for your event battles and share their knowledge so you only fight only the ones you can win!