Diversity, globalisation are main features of Art Dubai

Sunday 05/03/2017
The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Programme at Art Dubai. (Art Dubai)

Dubai - Ambitious programming, new leadership, the highest number of par­ticipating galleries from Iran and a strong con­tingent of Latin American art make this a year of firsts for Art Dubai.
“This year’s show is the most globally diverse with 93 galleries from a record 43 countries partici­pating across our two halls, Con­temporary and Modern,” said new Art Dubai Director Myrna Ayad.
“There are new initiatives, such as the Modern Symposium and our largest performance art programme to date, offering further insights into the regional art scene with a bigger agenda to engage our visitors outside the gallery halls,” Ayad said.
Art Dubai — the 11th edition is scheduled for March 15th-18th — has five specially commissioned performances, led by guest curator Yasmina Reggad and presented by international artists Manuel Pel­mus, Lana Fahmi, Egle Budvytyte, Ivan Argote and Pauline Bastard.
“The performance-only commis­sioned programme includes a trib­ute to the late Emirati master Has­san Sharif, who passed away last year, by Yasmina Reggad and Lana Fahmi. They will perform a dance piece, created in homage to him, based on his diagrams, instruc­tions and performance archive,” Ayad said.
As part of Art Dubai Projects, Bei­rut-based art collective Atfal Ahdath is presenting The Room: Cooking Liberty. Taking cues from Salvador Dali’s cookbook, Les Diners de Gala, and through exaggeration and rep­etition, Atfal Ahdath invites guests to experience their new, live vis­ceral installation by day. By night, the collective will welcome guests with edible dreams in an immersive setting reminiscent of a grandiose banquet, a truly sensorial experi­ence that flirts with familiarity and expectation.
Another project titled Ghariba (Stranger) by Moroccan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Meriem Ben­nani, creates an interactive bar in­stallation, borrowing from playful strategies and designs that beauty salons, massage parlours or enter­tainment parks use to encourage social interaction among strangers.
The inaugural Modern Symposi­um complements the fair’s Modern Hall and is supported by Alserkal Avenue, Dubai’s vibrant art dis­trict in Al Quoz. The symposium will take place on March 17th at Art Dubai Modern and March 18th at Al­serkal Avenue.
The series of talks and presenta­tions focus on the life, work and cul­tural impact of 20th-century Mod­ern masters from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Renowned curators, scholars and patrons will lead the sessions that will delve into the styles, influences and practices of artists whose work contributed to the history of art produced between the 1940s and 1980s.
Art Dubai’s critically acclaimed Global Art Forum on March 15th- 17th features 50 speakers from around the world, focusing this year on the theme of trade, Ayad said. “Titled Trading Places, it will shed light on the trade of goods and ide­as that shape — and reshape — the world,” she said.
Art Dubai is also where the Abraaj Group Art Prize, the region’s most important art prize, is unveiled. The commissioned work of the 2017 prize winner, London-based Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum, can be seen alongside an exhibition of works by the shortlisted artists Doa Aly, Sarah Abu Abdallah and Raha Raissnia.
Sheikha Manal Little Artists Pro­gramme, in its fifth edition, has become an important part of Art Dubai. It offers a unique opportuni­ty for UAE-based children and teen­agers, encouraging them to engage in arts. This year’s edition features Expanding Treasures, a project by lead artist Suzan Drummen, involv­ing families and various children working together to create a large-scale temporary installation at the fair.
The fair’s international director, Pablo del Val, pointed out that Art Dubai is showing “new galleries and countries for the first time, with a particularly strong contingent of Iranian galleries as well as our high­est-ever number of galleries from Latin America”.
“Visitors will have a new experi­ence in the gallery halls, with more tightly curated presentations. The exhibitions will be split between solo or two-artist exhibitions, al­lowing a more focused contem­plation, and multi-artist shows, enabling an overview of different works,” del Val said.
“The Latin American art scene is very exciting and rich with a mix­ture of cultural influences and roots — aboriginal as well as European. The artists work on different plat­forms and in many media and the themes are very relevant to the Mid­dle East, such as post-colonialism, displacement, urban change and population growth. The two geopo­litical regions have many things in common.”
“Art Dubai mirrors this globali­sation, and everything comes alive and ideas get exchanged here,” he added.