The seventh edition of Art Dubai, one of the most anticipated and exciting contemporary art events in the Middle East, proved to be the most successful one since its inception. Held in partnership with The Abraaj Group and sponsored by Cartier, Art Dubai took place from March 20-23, 2013, at Madinat Jumeirah.
More than 25,000 visitors, among them gallery owners and curators, art collectors, artists, art enthusiasts and tourists keen on visiting the much talked about event, attended Art Dubai this year. The value of the artworks exhibited at Art Dubai is valued at approximately US$ 45 million.
The 2013 edition of Art Dubai saw participation from 75 museum groups and 300 individual museum and institutional representatives, with a total of 500 artists from 30 countries from all over the world including various parts of the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. More than 50% of the participating artists, who either took part via exhibiting galleries or through Art Dubai’s various programmes, were from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
This year, 28 international galleries made their first debut at Art Dubai debut among them were GAG Projects from Adelaide and Berlin, Yvon Lambert from Paris, and Almine Rech Gallery from Paris and Brussels.
Not only is the fair known for showcasing the works of prominent contemporary artists, but it has also secured its place as the go-to destination for artworks from emerging artists from little known cities and countries. Every year, the fair showcases a curated section, called Marker, which aims to introduce a variety of artworks from a specific region.
The 2013 Marker was curated by Bisi Silva, and focused on artworks from West African countries like Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana and Senegal. The artworks included Emeka Ogboh’s sound installation at Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA, Lagos) and organic carved wooden figures by Amahiguéré Dolo’s at Carpe Diem (Ségou). This exhibition also marked the first time that contemporary art from West Africa was shown in the Middle East. It was announced at Art Dubai’s press conference that Marker 2014 will focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus.
During the opening of the fair, Art Dubai unveiled works by the winners of the fifth edition of The Abraaj Group Art Prize. The exhibition, entitled ‘extra | ordinary’, and curated by Murtaza Vali featured a floor installation of thousands of pieces of lead by Rayyane Tabet; miniature gold statues encased in acrylic by Vartan Avakian; text panels, photographs and sculptures by Iman Issa; a cabinet of curiosities by Huma Mulji; and large scale photography by Hrair Sarkissian.
What sets Art Dubai apart from any other art fair is that it doesn't focus on exhibitions only. Even though they account for the majority of the fair's program as evident in the packed gallery halls, Art Dubai makes it a mission to promote dialogue and education throughout its duration. The fair’s educational programming is run in partnership with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). One such project is the highly praised Global Art Forum.
Encouraging pan-regional dialogue and interaction, Global Art Forum_7, entitled ‘It Means This,’ ran over the course of six days. The forum explored the concept of ‘definitionism,’ discussing the use of words, phrases and clichés in the art world today, with presentations made by artists Michael Stipe, Tarek Atoui, Hassan Khan, Ala Younis, and Manal Al Dowayan; curators Reem Fadda, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Koyo Kouoh; composer and musician André Vida; and Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, professor of political science.
Global Art Forum_7, held in partnership with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (QMA), was curated by Istanbul-based critic HG Masters, and started from March 17-18, 2013 in Doha, Qatar and continued at Art Dubai from March 20-23, 2013.
This year's edition of the popular 'The Hatch,' a stairwell transformed into an intimate space that projects film and video, is curated by artist Maha Maamoun, co-founder of the Contemporary Image Collective (CiC) in Cairo, and features the work of Ali Cherri, Hassan Khanand, and Anri Sala.
A new addition to the 2013 lineup is 'Sculpture on the Beach,' guest curated by Chus Martinez, Chief Curator of El Museo del Barrio, and displayed on the Mina A'Salam beach. Artworks include pieces by Chris Burden, Amahiguéré Dolo, Mounir Fatmi, Bita Fayyazi, Vibha Galhotra, Abdoulaye Konaté, Gabriel Kuri, Hassan Sharif, Slavs and Tatars, UBIK and Saddek Wasil.
Launched for the first time at Art Dubai, is the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Programme, the perfect activity for children with an interest in art. The programme is composed of a set of workshops and discovery tours of Art Dubai for children and teenagers aged between 3 and 14.
Fully committed to providing an exceptional art fair, Art Dubai witnessed the launch of Campus Art Dubai, in partnership with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). Campus Art Dubai, running from January to June, offers UAE- based artists and curators monthly Saturday School sessions, and monthly public seminars, which will wrap up with an exhibition in Fall 2013.
Art Dubai's Fair Director Antonia Carver said, “The growth of Art Dubai over the past seven years reflects the rising prominence of the UAE as a centre of art and cultural discourse. We see Art Dubai as a powerful venue for regional and international talents to reach out to new audiences, explore new markets and connect with like-minded collaborators. At the same time, through the Global Art Forum we act as the catalyst for discussions that ripple far beyond the region and extend far beyond the visual arts.”
Art Dubai 2013 reported strong sales from many galleries, and proved once again that it is the major art destination in the Gulf – the Arab world in fact. With the largest not-for-profit programme in the fair’s history, and more than 40 artists taking part in Art Dubai Projects, including residencies, commissions, curatorial and educational projects, performances, screenings, a mobile art gallery, as well as the dXb store, it has cemented itself as both commercial, cultural, and best of all educational.
For more information on Art Dubai visit www.artdubai.ae
– Sam Khoury