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Discovery and diversity at Art Dubai 2014

The event will be the centrepiece of a week-long celebration of aesthetic creativity, showcasing new talents alongside the world’s best

Image Credit: Elmarsa Gallery
Le paon, 1945, by Baya
Gulf News

Art Dubai 2014 promises to be the most diverse and global edition of the art fair to date with 85 galleries from 34 countries, and an extensive public programme featuring leading art professionals from around the world. The eighth edition of the fair will be held at Madinat Jumeirah from March 19 to March 22. Highlights of the event include a new gallery section dedicated to modern masters; the presentation of art from central Asia and the Caucasus; a basement cinema screening videos and artists’ films; an interesting array of commissioned works; and lively debates about significant moments in history.

“Art Dubai’s roots are firmly grounded in the UAE arts scene, and the fair echoes the expansion of the arts infrastructure in Dubai and the region. We believe this edition of Art Dubai reflects Dubai’s identity as a major cultural city, alongside its role as a hub for trade, finance and transport. Our growth has been organic and supported by a highly motivated audience of artists, curators, gallerists, patrons and enthusiasts. Last year we had 25,000 visitors and our aim is to attract even more visitors this year,” Antonia Carver, the fair director, says.

The commercial side of the fair will be divided into three distinct categories. The largest section is the contemporary gallery halls, with more than 70 galleries offering works by established and emerging contemporary artists from around the globe. These include several UAE-based galleries and fair regulars such as Athr (Jeddah), Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris), Alexander Gray Associates (New York), Victoria Miro (London), Galerist (Istanbul) and Experimenter (Kolkata); as well as first-time participants such as Ota Fine Arts (Tokyo/Singapore), Baro Galeria (Sao Paulo), The Breeder (Athens/Monte Carlo), Galerie Greta Meert (Brussels), Galleria Franco Noero (Turin) and 313 Art Project (Seoul). They will bring latest works by exciting emerging talents as well as established names such as Marina Abramovich, Rina Banerjee, Yto Barrada, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama, Sol Lewitt, Meekyoung Shin, Abdul Nasser Gharem, Mona Hatoum and Chen Zhen.

The newly launched Art Dubai Modern programme is dedicated to 20th-century art from the Middle East and south Asia, and will be located in Mina A’Salam. Each gallery will present a solo or two-person show featuring modern masters. The featured artists include Rasheed Araeen, Nasser Al Yousuf, Rashid Al Khalifa, Michel Basbous, Hamed Abdullah, Adam Henein, M.F. Husain, Syed Sadequain, Ardeshir Mohasses and Nabeel Nahas. This programme has been developed in consultation with renowned curators and art historians Savita Apte, Catherine David, Kristine Khouri and Nada Shabout. And it also includes research projects, talks, tours and other educational initiatives. “These artists have been highly influential on subsequent generations, and learning about their work allows for a historical contextualisation of contemporary art in the region. Many modern artists from the region have not been given enough exposure, so this focus on modern art is extremely significant for this region and is a focal point for understanding the art world of today,” David says.


This year the Marker section will focus on central Asia and the Caucasus, celebrating the complexities of faith, identity and language in these regions through works ranging from mid-20th-century painting to contemporary drawings and sculptures from various countries. Curated by artists “Slavs and Tatars”, Marker will be presented in the form of a “chaikhaneh” or Eurasian tea salon, with talks, research projects, an education programme and artists’ books complementing the artworks on display. The art spaces and artist-led organisations invited to participate in Marker include ArtEast (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan); Asia Art (Almaty, Kazakhstan); North Caucasus Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art, NCCA (Vladikavkaz, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Russia); Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project (Tbilisi, Georgia); and YARAT Contemporary Art Space (Baku, Azerbaijian).

“Presenting the galleries in separate sections of global contemporary art, modern art from the region and the art scene in central Asia will help visitors to see the links between artists and art movements, between modern and contemporary practice, and the ways in which artists working across this region and in very different cities and contexts still share common ideas. It reaffirms Art Dubai’s role as a fair of discovery and diversity, and grows its reach through history as well as geography,” Carver says.


Also displayed throughout the fair and across various digital platforms will be a variety of “interventions” in the form of site-specific installations, performances, videos and research projects that interact with and comment on the fair and its environment, and engage with the three gallery sections as well as the Global Art Forum. Twelve young artists from the Middle East, Asia and North Africa have been commissioned to create these works by Art Dubai Projects, which is an important part of the fair’s non-commercial agenda, and has become an incubator for nurturing exciting new artists and curators from the region.


The fair also fosters young talent from the Middle East and Asia through its Artists in Residence (A.i.R. Dubai) initiative, organised in collaboration with Delfina Foundation, Dubai Culture and Tashkeel. The five artists selected this year are Nadia Ayari, Sunoj D., Maitha Demithan, Sara Al Haddad and Maryam Al Qassimi. They have been residing in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood since January and working alongside curator-in-residence Ipek Ulusoy Akgül to create projects for Art Dubai and works that will be exhibited at an Open Studios exhibition in the Sikka Art Fair.


The fair’s art-education initiatives include Campus Art Dubai — the free Saturday school for UAE-based artists, curators, writers, cultural producers and art workers, developed with lead tutor Tirdad Zolghadr; and the Shaikha Manal Little Artists Programme of workshops and discovery tours for children.

The fair’s non-commercial programme also includes the five-day Global Art Forum to be held in Doha and Dubai; Falgoosh Radio, film and video screenings; a live artist-led radio station, programmed by London-based sound artists and composers Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver; the Shaikha Manal Little Artists Programme for children; as well as talks, book launches, curator led-tours of the fair and more.

A much awaited part of the opening night at Art Dubai is the unveiling of the exhibition by the winners of The Abraaj Group Art Prize, which is unique in being awarded on the basis of proposals. The artists whose proposals made the cut this year are Abbas Akhavan, Anup Mathew Thomas, Basim Magdy, Bouchra Khalili and Kamrooz Aram. They have been working with curator Nada Raza to develop ambitious projects made possible by the generous prize.

Fair co-sponsor Cartier’s Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain will present a special exhibition, where artist Bodys Isek Kingelez’s colourful architectural work, “Maman Isek Mabo Bendele”, will be juxtaposed with the geometric and modern lines of the “L’Odyssee de Cartier” collection of unique haute jewellery pieces, and presented in a specially designed “urban” environment.


Jyoti Kalsi is an arts enthusiast based in Dubai.




Global Art Forum 8 – “Meanwhile … History”


A key element of the public programme at Art Dubai is The Global Art Forum (GAF), featuring interviews, debates, research papers and commissioned projects. GAF 8, which is presented by Dubai Culture and Qatar Museums Authority, will open at Katara Art Centre in Doha on March 15 and 16, and move to Art Dubai in Mina A’Salam from March 19 to March 21. Titled, “Meanwhile …History”, it will reflect on significant decades, years, days and moments that shifted an understanding of the world and history.


The participants include leading international artists, architects, filmmakers, writers, historians, educationists, theatre personalities and political commentators; and they will discuss a variety of topics such as Ibn Khaldun’s medieval treatise, “The Muqaddimah”; Soviet Orientalism; American Cold War paranoia; a hundred years of the art exhibition, “Documenta”; several millennia of the pearling industry of the Gulf; the “Short Seventies” in the UAE and across the world; cultural experiments in Kuwait; Iranian art collections in Dubai; Africa in 1966; and creative lapses in storytelling and Facebook timelines. The sessions, which are free and open to all, will be streamed live within the fair and globally.

“Meanwhile...History” takes Eric Hobsbawm’s adage, “A protest against forgetting”, as its starting point. As our experience of time accelerates, so does the build-up of history. Amnesia is built into this process by default. This year’s forum is an occasion to time-travel to some of history’s blind spots. Each interview, presentation or commissioned project is a point on an imagined timeline of turning points that shifted an understanding of the world. The forum is thus a journey through known and unknown histories of critical change and seismic moments,” says writer and GAF 8 commissioner Shumon Basar.


Moving Images

Art Dubai’s new Moving Images programme, launched in partnership with Dubai International Film Festival and Sharjah Art Foundation, explores the filmmakers’ art and artists’ films in the Arab world with a series of film and video screenings. It includes the Cinema Programme, for which a new basement cinema space will be launched at Madinat Jumeirah. The programme includes the international premiere of “Towards the Possible Film” by Shezad Dawood; “Space of Celebration” by Taus Makhacheva; and acclaimed feature “The Stuart Hall Project” by John Akomfrah, to be screened at Sharjah Art Foundation’s Mirage City Cinema on March 22. The programme includes works on view at Art Dubai plus discussions with the artists led by Kaelen Wilson-Goldie and Stephanie Bailey.






Art Week

Art Dubai is part of Art Week, an umbrella initiative that highlights the plethora of exhibitions, projects and events that now coincide with the fair each March, making it the most dynamic time in the UAE’s cultural calendar. Special events include Design Days Dubai, the only fair in the region dedicated to product design and objects; Sikka, the fair run by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and dedicated to new work by UAE-based artists; and Galleries Nights (on March 17) with more than 40 new exhibitions opening across Al Quoz and the Dubai International Financial Centre; and other projects, museum shows and major events throughout the UAE, Qatar and the Gulf region. As usual, the Art Bus will be available for visitors to travel between participating venues in the UAE.

A Special Record:

Artists from Mawaheb from Beautiful People, a studio for young adults with special needs, located in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood will also showcase their talent during the Sikka Art Fair. Their paintings, along with abayas and scarves decorated with prints of the paintings, will be displayed at Mawaheb. In collaboration with Future Fashion, they will also attempt to create a record for the largest abaya in the world, which will be decorated with their colourful paintings.




Event: Art Dubai 2014

Venue: Madinat Jumeirah

Date and Time:

March 19 – Ladies’ preview from 1pm to 4pm; and by invitation only from 4pm to 9.30pm.

March 20 – 4pm to 9.30pm

March 21 – 2pm to 9.30pm

March 22 – noon to 6.30pm.

Tickets are available at the venue. Dh50 for one day and Dh80 for three days. Free for visitors below 18 years and university students with ID proof.


For more information go to