Every January, my thoughts turn to shimmering sands, 74 galleries from around the globe, an exciting line up of art events happening across Dubai and the Gulf region, and a super-swank meeting of art luvahs from every corner of the planet, looking for their fix of art and ideas from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asian. I’m dreaming of Art Dubai 2012.
This year, Art Dubai’s 6th, promises to be as fun, fascinating, and ground-breaking as ever. Now well established and thoughtfully capitalizing on their historical role as a well positioned, important port city and place of exchange and cross-cultural dialogue, Art Dubai continues to push boundaries and provide a platform for histories in the making. It has become an essential meeting point for artists, art lovers, collectors, and arts organizations to connect, learn, and feel the pulse of MENASA art production.
In 2011, 20,000 Art Dubai visitors witnessed how the Arab Spring was impacting artists and artistic production across regions through art work that reflected the spirit of the times. It is still an exciting time to be part this dialogue between artist and viewer.
Programming is still being announced, but here are just a few things I’m already excited about from Art Dubai 2012:
Abraaj Capital Prize Works
The Abraaj Capital Art Prize exists to empower potential and give often under-represented, contemporary artists from the vibrant MENASA region the resources to further develop their talent and a global platform on which to showcase their works and their region. Artists are selected from proposals, and then go on to complete the works to be presented at Art Dubai. The 2012 winners are an internationally acclaimed and diverse group who combine outstanding artistic ability with a desire to engage and champion the arts throughout the region. All the winners have a strong exhibition history regionally and internationally, and are actively involved in inspiring the next generation of artists from the region to achieve success.
The winning artists are:
Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Wael Shawky (Egypt), Risham Syed (Pakistan), Raed Yassin (Lebanon)
Works by this year’s artists will be presented to the public on the opening night of Art Dubai.
(Source: Abraaj Capital Art Prize)
Global Art Forum 5
The critically-acclaimed Global Art Forum, a series of art talks with some of the worlds most influential artists, curators, and cultural operators, is under the directorship of curator and writer Shumon Basar, and expands to six days this year. It begins at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, March 18-19, and continues at Art Dubai, March 21-24. The line-up is yet to be announced, and I have no doubt it will be as exciting, dynamic, and thought provoking as ever. Shumon Basar is a provocative and exciting thinker, so I’m curious to see what he’s manifesting for 2012.
Read this fantastic article in Art Territories by Shumon Basar. Introduction: If you travelled through Dubai’s various ‘zones’ between the years 2001 and 2008, chances are you’d have felt equally nowhere and everywhere at the same time. All the world was there, for the first time, once. The fate of so-called ‘cities from zero’ in the 21st century is haunted by the histories of cities-past. This presentation is an awry look – using fiction and narration – at how here is always, approximately speaking, there. ZERO CITY: (APPROXIMATE) DÉJÀ-VU
Art Week will play an important part in Art Dubai’s continual efforts to grow art audiences, support local talent, and provide educational opportunities for locally-based students and graduates. Launched during Art Dubai 2011, Art Week ( which will take place from 15 -25 March in 2012) is an umbrella initiative that includes new gallery exhibitions and artists’ projects, fairs, performances and major museum shows, taking place across the UAE and the Gulf to coincide with Art Dubai. (Source: Art in the City)
One such program is the Sikka Art Fair, highlighting the work of local Emirati talent and taking place at the scenic Al Bastakiya. Al Bastakiya is an icon of the city’s unique architectural and cultural heritage, and home to private galleries and cultural activities, creating another unique art experience for visitors.
Marker, the curated section of ‘concept stands’ launched in 2011, this year turns its focus to the Indonesian arts scene. Commissioned by Art Dubai, the renowned, Yogyakartaborn curator Alia Swastika has invited five Indonesian galleries – Ark Galerie, Biasa Artspace, Galerie Canna, D’Gallerie, and Jogja Contemporary – to participate; they are now working with artists to produce new work for the fair in March 2012.
Curator of the upcoming Jogja Biennial and one of the artistic directors of the 9th Gwangju Biennial, Ms Swastika commented: “Like the Middle East, Indonesia has witnessed the growth of an extraordinarily dynamic arts scene, where art is perceived not only as an integral part of life, but as a tool to reflect on society. Exhibiting at Art Dubai offers Indonesian artists a ‘connecting door’ to be a part of this new era in contemporary Muslim societies, and for the art world at large to get to know our artists, as they take to the international stage.”
And so it begins…..
Like last year, I am already obsessed with learning more about the artists, art groups, curators, speakers, and thought leadership that is coming out of Art Dubai 2012, and I will be blogging extensively about it over the next couple months.
With any luck, I’ll be attending Art Dubai 2012, (and yes, you can hire me to write for you!) until then, dreams of art will be dancing in my head.
Next week, I will be posting on the Abraaj Capital Art Prize winners and their curator for 2012, with a re-cap of past winners, including an updated section on the 2011 projects.
Next Post: Abraaj Capital Art Prize Winner: Wael Shawky