Laure Parise and Najeh Zimmermann are on a two-woman mission to make art and design more accessible.
The duo founded Antidote, an online UAE-based platform for the art-and-design scene, last year, and this month are presenting the second edition of their Artroom project.
The idea is to showcase art and design together, in an informal and relaxed setting that people can relate to. The first edition of Artroom took place in a villa; the second is being held in a warehouse in Al Quoz, and is titled Collective Loft. The aim is to recreate the home of a young, well-travelled collector who has picked up special pieces as he has traversed the globe.
“We wanted to do something different,” Parise explains. “The whole idea is to offer the audience a new way of experiencing art and design, and to bring art and design closer to people. We want them to understand that you shouldn’t be afraid of having a nice piece of art or design in your living environment.”
The installation offers an alternative way of viewing pieces that goes beyond the standard gallery and exhibition format. “There are many people who don’t dare to step into a gallery,” Parise notes. “Which is a shame, because that is what they are there for. But people still find it intimidating. With Artroom, we want to be at the other end of the spectrum: come on in, bring your friends, and we’ll give you a private tour.”
Artroom, Edition II will feature pieces by 25 artists and designers from 13 countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, France, Cuba, the United States and Argentina. These include the French brand Smarin, which made its UAE debut at Downtown Design last year, and is the creator of Dunes, a series of modular, dune-shaped, chaise-like foam seats. Modularity is also key to the brand’s Play Yet series, pieces of wood and cork that can be configured and reconfigured in countless ways to create shelving systems, stools, tables and a number of other things.
There will also be 3-D pieces in cement and neon by the Pakistani creatives Idrees Hanif and Aamir Habib; work by the artist Ibrahim Quraishi, recipient of numerous awards, including the Mondriaan Fonds Grant Award 2014; and paintings by the emerging Egyptian artist Mohamed Rabie.
The aim is to mix different styles and mediums, which is a more honest representation of how a real home is put together. “It’s definitely a very international collection,” Parise says. “In this day and age, you might grow up somewhere, study somewhere else, get your first job somewhere else, and you’ll travel. You’ll pick something up from each of those places. That’s the idea behind the international collection – creating a story behind this possible collector that the audience can relate to. I also believe that mixing different kinds of art and design can bridge gaps between two cultures. It helps people discover new countries and cultures, and it can open people’s minds.”
The first edition of Artroom was well received, Parise says, with attendees appreciating the relaxed environment and the opportunity to gather information and get a better understanding of the pieces and their creators.
This year, the warehouse, which belongs to the lighting brand Zumtobel, is larger, offering more scope to play around with set-ups and more room for the pieces. A lot of the same artists will be featured, but with unseen works, and Antidote will also use the opportunity to present new artists and designers in its portfolio. The event runs for three weeks, from March 10 to 31.
“Last year, we saw that people come and enjoy, then they come back with another friend, then they come back with another group of people, before they decide to buy. They want to see the pieces again, do some research – and they don’t have the stress of knowing the exhibition is only on for four days, so they don’t have to make a decision immediately,” Parise says.
In keeping with Antidote’s aim to make art and design more available to all, the various pieces will cover a wide range of price points.
The Antidote portfolio consists primarily of emerging and mid-career artists, half of which are regional and the other half international. “If the idea is to bring art and design closer to people, you have to offer prices that make that possible. For Artroom, prices will start from US$500 (Dh1,837) for limited-edition photography; $2,000 to $3,000 for the 3-D pieces; and about $10,000 to $15,000 for oil paintings.
“We know that people are more and more educated about art, and there are more and more collectors in the UAE,” Parise says.
“But you have your high-end collectors and then all these people in the mid-range, who live here and love art. We want to offer them the option of seeing wonderful, high-quality art that you can have in your home.”
Artroom, Edition II will take place in the Zumtobel Lighting warehouse, 6A Street, Al Quoz, Dubai. For more information, visit www.antidotedxb.com.
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