Why 2018 Should Be the Year You (Finally) Attend Art Week

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performers at sikka art fair bastakiya
Photo: Courtesy of @ArtDubai

For culture junkies across the city, March is a bit of a mad month – in the best way possible. From appearances by beloved authors at the recent Emirates Airline Literature of Festival to vintage film nights at Courtyard Playhouse and Mica Paris singing Ella Fitzgerald at Dubai Opera, it feels impossible to choose how to spend your days.

March is also the month during which Art Week takes over, with talks, exhibitions, workshops, performances, and more happening at over 140 locations across the country. If you have absolutely no idea how to navigate the likes of Alserkal AvenueSIKKA Art Fair, and Art Dubai – three unmissable highlights on the Art Week agenda – you’ve come to the right place.


SIKKA Art Fair

March 17 to 26

SIKKA Art Fair returns to Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood for its eighth edition, showcasing the talents of UAE- and GCC-based artists from far and wide. The site-specific works will span an array of mediums including audio and video installations, multi-disciplinary initiatives, music performances, and visual arts such as photography and sculptures.

Highlights to look forward to this year? An exhibition showcasing over 1,000 products by 75 students from 17 special needs centers (daily), blindfolded art therapy (March 19th), a photo walk by Analog Photography UAE (March 21st), and a free screening of Loving Vincent (March 22nd). Find more details here.

Sikka Art Fair al fahidi live music performance
Photo: Courtesy of Dubai Culture

Art Week at Alserkal Avenue

March 19 to 24

New gallery exhibitions and artist commissions will feature alongside a series of public talks and workshops during Art Week at Alserkal Avenue. While the offerings are wonderfully overwhelming, we recommend starting with a visit to Concrete to take in Ishara: Signs, Symbols & Shared Languages. Curator-led tours of this group exhibition will take place daily at 4 p.m. While you’re around, be sure to view Under, a mixed-media installation that touches on many aspects of human behavior and systems of control – social as well as civic – by Turkish artist Hale Tenger.

As part of Art Week, Alserkal Avenue will also host a number of pop-up projects. Highlights include a curatorial performance by Iranian contemporary artist Fereydoun Ave (March 19th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Warehouse 46) and a participatory social experiment by Bricklab co-founder Abdulrahman Gazzaz. Entitled 1,102, it will center around modern-day value systems in the art world (daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Warehouse 61). See the full program here.

Al Serkal Avenue Night
Photo: Courtesy of Alserkal Avenue

Art Dubai

March 21 to 24

With 105 galleries from 48 countries in attendance, this year’s edition of Art Dubai promises to bring the best of the art world to our doorstep. It will also feature commissioned projects, artists’ residencies, and the critically acclaimed Global Art Forum. The fair is more suited to bona fide art enthusiasts so, if it’s you first time attending, join one of the six one-hour public tours (March 23-24) that will depart from the Art Dubai Programming Booth.

If you’re well acquainted with the fair and hoping to learn more from renowned curators and scholars, head to Art Dubai Modern Symposium, a series of talks focused on the life, work, and cultural impact of 20th century masters from the Middle East and beyond. Another highlight – and a must-see for aficionados of regional art – is That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life, an exhibition that will showcase 75 paintings and works on paper by 29 artists assembled from 15 cities.

Curated to refute the depiction of modernism in the Arab world as a monolithic phenomenon, it will represent some of the leading members of five modernist artist groups and schools spanning five decades from five Arab cities: Cairo, Baghdad, Casablanca, Khartoum, and Riyadh. Tickets to Art Dubai can be purchased here.

aerial view of art dubai galleries
Photo: Courtesy of Art Week
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