The Art Rendezvous of the Middle East

WolfPakistan are playing as part of Performance Night at Art Dubai in the Madinat Jumeirah

WolfPakistan are playing as part of Performance Night at Art Dubai in the Madinat Jumeirah (Photo Credit: Art Dubai)

The Global Art Forum is part of Art Dubai’s discussion programme that this year includes the fourth edition of ‘The Big Idea’ – a forum for young UAE based artists and designers. The thematic focus for 2012 is ‘multiple meanings of media in the art world and beyond.’ Art is the focus but so is media - its diversity of forms and its significance culturally and socially and in relation to social change.

By expanding its programming to six days to reach a wider public, this year’s Art Dubai Global Art Forum is embracing the arts in the broadest sense. After featuring for two days (March 18-19) in Doha, the remainder of the event is to be held in Dubai (March 21-24).

While the Doha program examined the relationship between the media and the creation of history and the increasing involvement of artists in filmmaking, in Dubai, critics, historians, and others are to discuss the legacy of Marshall McLuhan, the impact of news on art and financial markets, and archiving Emirati television.

Programs include commissioned projects and research, workshops, debates, and presentations. Directed by the writer Shumon Basar, it encourages intercultural dialogue about artistic expression, process, production, and exposition. Basar states, “The Global Art Forum is a ‘media production’ that features an array of media formats – live, pre-recorded, ongoing – as well as diverse voices, both regional and international, from the worlds of film, journalism, economics, social media, literature, publishing, and of course, art.”

There are fifty contributors to the Global Art Forum this year including the Serpentine Gallery co-director of exhibitions and programmes and director of international projects, Hans Ulrich Obrist; novelist and artist Douglas Coupland; film producer Anna Lena Vaney; art market reporter Georgina Adam; writer and critic Sukhdev Sandhu; blogger Hind Mezaina; and the filmmaker Sophie Fiennes, who will be present for a screening of ‘Over Your Cities The Grass Will Grow.’

(Photo Credit: Art Dubai)

Study for “Oil and Water,” James Clar and UBIK, 2012 (Photo Credit: Art Dubai)

Commissioned projects that featured in expositions both before and after the Forum as well as during its six days are a new offering this year and include Power Points by various writers and artists, ‘A Dictionary of the Mediatized Gulf’ by Qatari artist-writer Sophia Al Maria; a new collection of stories edited by Michael Vasquez; and an interactive Arabic Art Glossary, led by curator Lara Khaldi.

Art Dubai itself takes place March 21-24 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. It features 74 galleries from 31 countries, a programme of artist and curators’ residencies, and a range of workshops and projects. Galleries returning from 2011 include Chantal Crousel (Paris), Gray Noise (Lahore), Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York), and The Third Line (Dubai). New galleries for 2012 include Arndt (Berlin), Rodolphe Janssen (Brussels), Lombard Freid Projects (New York), Galerie Mirchandani and Steinruecke (Mumbai), and Platform China (Beijing.)

Other arts programming taking place in Dubai at the same time includes the Sikka Art Fair, contemporary art and design shows, new gallery expositions, and major museum shows designed to expand the audience of Art Dubai to reach Dubai’s general public. In this spirit a range of additional programs accessible to Dubai residents include  performances to be held at various venues throughout the fair by the Filipino performance artist Carlos Celdran who will explore post-colonial identities, geopolitics, arts, and culture; surprise musical performances by Koken Ergun from Turkey and Art Dubai’s new ‘Performance Night’ to be held March 22. It will feature an eclectic mix of artists, poets, musicians, academics, curators, dancers, and collectors.

(Photo Credit: Art Dubai)

Pseudophobia, an interactive fortress-like structure made from sandbags, textiles, pins and mirrors, by Setu Legi (Photo Credit: Art Dubai)

For 2012 a major new feature of programming is the Artists-in-Residence who have been commissioned to make site specific artwork during residency in the historic quarter of Bastakiya, Dubai. Artists selected this year for these three months residencies are Faycal Baghriche, Magdi Mostafa, Deniz Uster – as well as Emirati artists, Hadeyah Badri, Zeinab Al Hashimi, and Nasir Nasrallah.

Another innovation this year is the work of five Indonesian galleries who are producing work for Art Dubai and whose inclusion in Art Dubai illustrates efforts to expand audiences for artists who do not necessarily have easy access to an international public and market.

Although many cultural programs have become increasingly duplicated across the gulf, such as film festivals, the construction of large museums and tourist cultural complexes Art Dubai remains the gulf’s major art event as significant and distinctive in the gulf as it is in the Middle East at large.

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