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Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and Member of the Dubai Council. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and Member of the Dubai Council, today opened the 17th edition of Art Dubai, the premier international art fair for the Middle East and Global South. Hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the exhibition runs March 1 to 3 at Madinat Jumeirah, with VIP previews on February 28 and 29.

Featuring over 120 contemporary, modern, and digital galleries, the event solidifies its status as a leading international platform that blends digital art with contemporary art, enriching Dubai’s creative landscape and affirming its role as a regional and international hub for cultural innovation.

Sheikha Latifa highlighted Art Dubai as a premier international platform for artistic innovation. She applauded it as an intellectual and artistic platform drawing creatives worldwide to share their experiences and pioneering ideas, thereby spotlighting breakthrough artistic trends. “Innovation is at the core of Dubai’s essence, as we continually shape the future of cultural and artistic creativity through our dynamic initiatives, programmes and events, reflecting our city’s forward-looking approach. By leveraging our distinctive cultural diversity and the prowess of our creative community, Dubai will continue to empower the cultural and creative industries sector towards the emirate’s sustainable development,” she said.

Sheikha Latifa added: “Art Dubai resonates deeply with the creative community’s goals and aspirations, having expanded the scope of artistic exploration and leveraging innovation to enhance the city’s distinct creative landscape through its prior editions, becoming a regionally and internationally recognised vibrant artistic movement. The increasing eagerness of artists from various countries to participate underscores the exhibition’s consistent success, establishing it as a platform for creativity and innovation.”

Diverse programme

She toured Art Dubai and was briefed on the diverse programme awaiting art enthusiasts. She commended the organisers for their pivotal role in fostering a creative platform that bolsters Dubai’s attractiveness as a cultural hub and keeps it engaged with local and international artists, innovators, and cultural partners. Their efforts highlighted the shared optimism for the artistic sector’s future in Dubai and the emirate’s significant efforts to promote the arts and integrate technology within the sector, aligning with its focus on digital transformation as envisioned by its leadership to keep its place among the best cities in the world to live, work, and visit, she said.

Gallery sections

Art Dubai Digital remains the only section of any major international art fair dedicated to new media and digital art. Now in its third year, it is curated by Alfredo Cramerotti and Auronda Scalera and brings to the fore artists, collectives, institutions and platforms who continue to push the boundaries of art and tech, from the early pioneers of blockchain art, to artists working at the cutting edge of robotics, AI, VR, XR and other advanced technologies.

The 2024 edition of Art Dubai Modern is curated by Dr Christianna Bonin, highlighting the forces that gave rise to today’s Global South. The presentation, titled ‘This Other World’, examines the extensive cultural exchanges between the Soviet Union and the Arab, African and South Asian countries that took place after the Second World War and reveals the shared experiences of artists from places as seemingly distant as Uganda, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka who were invited to study in Soviet metropolises such as Tashkent, Kyiv, Almaty and Moscow.

Art Dubai’s section called Bawwaba – meaning gateway in Arabic – features 10 solo presentations of new artwork. The section, curated by Emiliano Valdés, explores the notion of Sanación, or healing, and features artists from Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia. Each work has a social and artistic context that opens space for introspection, exploring notions of community and belonging, and art as a catalyst for transformation. Expanding on this theme, this year’s Art Dubai Commissions programme includes a series of newly commissioned performances and interventions that will take place throughout the fair.

Art Dubai’s Executive Director Benedetta Ghione said: “We are in the midst of a vibrant chapter in Dubai’s cultural narrative. The city is flourishing, drawing people globally, and its cultural infrastructure is evolving swiftly on robust foundations. Art Dubai, through its distinctive and autonomous approach, is redefining the contribution an art fair can make to advancing a creative economy. The event focuses on capacity building and fostering opportunities for artists and creatives via partnerships and collaborations, embodying the innovative spirit that distinguishes Dubai and the diverse communities who call it home.”

Conferences and talks

Thought leadership and capacity building are pivotal to Art Dubai’s expansive programme, which is now the largest of any international art fair. The highlights for 2024 include the Global Art Forum’s 17th edition, delving into the interplay between extreme weather and significant change; the second edition of Art Business Conference Dubai, a premier discussion platform on the global art market’s pressing issues; and the inaugural Digital Summit at Art Dubai, which brings together experts to explore the burgeoning digital art economy in Dubai.

Art Dubai’s Artistic Director Pablo del Val commented: “Art challenges our perceptions, and this year’s edition sheds light on diverse and frequently underrepresented voices. As a platform for the global art community, Art Dubai invites visitors to delve into the breadth and intricacy of our offerings, from premier contemporary galleries and museum-calibre displays in Art Dubai Modern to groundbreaking artists pioneering the use of avant-garde technologies in Art Dubai Digital.”