Let’s Talk You Through the Art Dubai Program, Shall We?

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Photo: Courtesy of Stijn te Strake

Year after year, Art Dubai is so much more than just art. There will be dance performances, children’s events, live talks, music sessions, a book launch, and a photography exhibition playing a complementary role at the upcoming 13th edition – but more on that later.

The pièce de résistance at this fair held in Madinat Jumeirah is the 90+ galleries from over 40 different countries, of course, with a revamped structure promising visitors “greater access and deeper engagement with artists and galleries from non-Western geographies”. This year’s focus is the Global South, which will address locations and people negatively affected by contemporary capitalist globalization, including subjugated people residing within wealthy countries. Curious? Keep reading.

Star Attraction

The galleries in attendance will be divided across four sections: Contemporary, Modern, Residents, and Bawwaba. Contemporary galleries will range from the established to the emerging and span the world, including the largest exhibition of contemporary art from the region. Modern, meanwhile, will present museum-quality works by Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African masters whose work has been influential throughout the 20th century.

This year will feature the second edition of Residents, a section focused on Latin America and dedicated to solo presentations from invited galleries, the artists of which will participate in a residency in the UAE. Similarly, the inaugural edition of Bawwaba (meaning “gateway” in Arabic) will also focus on Latin America, showcasing ten solo presentations, all recently created or conceived for Art Dubai.

Think Local

Highlighting the country’s independent collectives and community groups will be new segment UAE NOW, bringing to the fore the contributions of grassroots platforms in creating new ways of thinking, theory, and artistic movements. Participants include Bait 15, Banat Collective, Jaffat el Aqlam, Public Art Collective, and Daftar Asfar.

The works of Emirati and UAE-based artists chosen for six-month seminar and residency program Campus Art Dubai will be exhibited in a group show entitled Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Contemporary Art and the City. On the roster? Dima Srouji, Augustine Paredes, Jumairy, and Mohamed Khalid.

Art Dubai galleries
Photo: Courtesy of Art Dubai

Talking Points

The renowned Global Art Forum returns to Art Dubai, taking place from March 20 to 21. Open to the public and free to attend, it will unite a diverse cast of curators, critics, educationalists, and entrepreneurs under the School Is a Factory? theme to address some of the most urgent challenges and opportunities facing education today.

Talks and presentations will continue at Art Dubai Modern Symposium under the title, Cultural Hubs of Modernism. The series will attempt to map out the cultural shifts instigated by modernity in four key cities – Baghdad, Beirut, Dakar, and Lahore – in the Middle East and South Asia during the 20th century. A new 60-minute ‘masterclass’ format will be introduced this time around.

Brazil Bound

As part of the fair’s not-for-profit program, Art Dubai Commissions travels far and wide to give artists worldwide the opportunity to develop dynamic site-specific works. This year, Art Dubai journeyed to Brazil, inviting celebrated artist collective Opavivará! to create an interactive installation on Fort Island.

Entitled Solaroca, the work will consist of a beach-like environment under the shade of an oca (a Brazilian indigenous house) and combine a typical Brazilian beach setting with traditional Middle Eastern elements – thereby serving as the perfect backdrop for intercultural dialogue.

Photo: Courtesy of Art Dubai

Fine Tunes

The After Dark music program will mirror Art Dubai’s focus on the Global South, with music sessions headlined by DJ Alexander Nut and lawyer-turned-popstar Nabihah Iqbal, who will play Latin and African sounds respectively. Legendary music platform NTS will lead its curation.

Center Stage

A celebration of all things togetherness, this year’s performance program has been developed by contemporary art institution Kunsthalle Lissabon and will explore the unifying aspects of gatherings such as dances and processions.

Highlights include carnival artist Marlon Griffith showcasing a custom version of his A Walk into the Night performance and multidisciplinary artist Samson Young reimagining the traditional Chinese lion dance through Muted Situation #2: Muted Lion Dance.

Photo: Courtesy of Marlon Griffith
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