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Art Dubai

1 March 2018

Since its launch in 2007, Art Dubai has grown into the most prominent art fair in the Middle East, helping drive Dubai’s rapid evolution into a cultural powerhouse in the region

“It began in 2007 as a 40-gallery fair with an attendance of 8,000, and the last edition brought together 94 galleries from 43 countries and welcomed 27,000 visitors,” says Art Dubai Fair Director Myrna Ayad. “It’s engaged with the art community, locally and internationally, and is the preeminent platform for people to discover the best there is in terms of art from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The diversity is unparalleled… it’s incomparable to any other art fair in the world.”

The 12th edition of the four-day Art Dubai will be the largest to date, with 104 galleries from 47 countries attending. The programme is underpinned by well-established events, such as Art Dubai Contemporary, which will feature 78 galleries from 42 countries – including first-time appearances for Iceland, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan – and Art Dubai Modern, a celebration of the work of 20th century artists from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, featuring 16 galleries from 14 countries. It also encompasses the Art Dubai Modern Symposium, a series of talks by art curators, patrons and scholars. The 12th edition of the Global Art Forum – the annual art summit presented by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) –that has been a mainstay of the fair since its inception, is undoubtedly a highlight.

Titled I Am Not A Robot and with a programme put together by Commissioner Shumon Basar and his Co-Directors – Chief Operating Officer and Futurist-in-Chief of the Dubai Future Foundation, Noah Raford, and Curator of Digital Culture and Design Collection at the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), Vienna, Marlies Wirth – will explore the theme of automation Ayad describes Art Dubai as “a place of discovery”, and The Room, an annual large-scale installation, is emblematic of the immersive nature of the fair. It is not designed purely for the static observation of artworks hanging on the white walls of hushed galleries. This year’s incarnation, titled Good Morning GCC, was created by the eight members of Khaleeji artist collective GCC, who met at Art Dubai in 2013. Good Morning GCC is a large-scale recreation of a daily daytime TV show, which will be launched with a live cooking demonstration by local celebrity wedding singer and TV chef Suliman Al Qassar.

“Art Dubai isn’t just an art fair,” explains Ayad. “It has become a platform, a nucleus, the flame that all the moths are attracted to.” And she’s right. Art Dubai is simply one of the highlights of Art Week (the seventh edition of which will take place across Dubai from March 17 to 24). It’s the spark that ignites the region’s creative community – and its light is burning brighter each year.

Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, March 21 to 24 | artdubai.ae

Main image courtesy: The Artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

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