Art Dubai
Art Dubai Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

The most important four days on the arts and cultural scene in the UAE has unveiled a new line-up with Art Dubai setting up the easel to paint a bold new season in time for the country’s 50th celebrations.

A new artist-led programme, along with 85 galleries from 36 countries, are all on the agenda for an ambitious 14th year of the event.

Artists take the lead

Art Dubai
Art Dubai Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

A new artist-led programme will be designed and guided by the talents participating in the fair, including live art happenings and site-specific experiences around Dubai. The new live experiences initiative aims to break the traditional ways of meeting, viewing and engaging with an artist’s practice and will offer deeper insights into theirthinking and making processes.

These gatherings will take place around Dubai – from performances on the beach and guided tours at textile souks in Dubai’s old city, to boat experiences around islands, to karaoke performances and themed encounters, invited artists will produce site-specific happenings that are prompted by human interaction, interconnection, and the ways in which we relate to our surroundings.

Participating artists include Lawrence Abu Hamdan (Jordan), Kristoffer Ardeña (Philippines), Iván Argote (Colombia), Tania Candiani (Mexico), James Clar (USA), Tsedaye Makonnen (Ethiopia/USA), and Serwan Baran (Iraq), amongst others.

New approach

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Art Dubai last year Image Credit: Virendra Saklani, Gulf News

For Art Dubai’s 2021 edition, visitors will experience diverse interpretations of perspectives in the three main sections of the fair, Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, and Bawwaba, on a scope of geographies and narratives from outside the traditional western-led scope.

Art Dubai Contemporary presents a diverse selection of galleries and exhibited artists, ranging from emerging art scenes to more established art hubs from around the world.

Art Dubai Modern, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, features exceptional works by 20th century modern masters working in specific geo-historical contexts across the MENASA region, aiming to drive new narratives and connections across exhibited presentations and across time.

Following its launch in 2019, this renewed edition of Bawwaba — meaning ‘gateway’ in Arabic — this year is curated by Nancy Adajania and features solo presentations created within the last year or conceived specifically for the fair and showcases alternative perspectives from diverse global hubs of trade, culture and art.

Art Dubai’s Artistic Director Pablo del Val commented on the 2021 edition: “Art Dubai is delighted that we have more than 90 per cent of our galleries returning for the 14th edition, and are proud of the diversity presented amongst the participating exhibitors. We believe in the importance of bringing communities together at physical events and as the only international art fair going forward in the first quarter of 2021, we believe there’s a unique opportunity that our platform can offer to visitors who are keen to explore, discover and re-engage with the international art world.”

Next year all sees the return of Bawwaba for its second edition, curated by Bombay-based cultural theorist and curator Nancy Adajania. As a section, Bawwaba serves as a portal of discovery of works created within the last year or specifically for the fair and affirms Art Dubai’s focus on presenting current artistic developments across wide geographical scopes across the Global South.

Adajania interprets the section descriptor ‘Bawwaba’ – meaning ‘gateway’ in Arabic – as an invitation to annotate the ‘offsites’ of global contemporary art, without creating a binary between art from the west and the so-called non-west.