Art Dubai on Wednesday announced details of its coming programme, running from March 3 to 5, highlighting the event's role as a meeting point for creative industries and communities from the Global South.
Benedetta Ghione, Art Dubai’s executive director, says the event has always worked to "reframe what an art fair can be", while providing the region's next generation of artists and arts professionals with "incredible" opportunities.
Ghione adds: "This year’s expanded programme fully reflects our role as a meeting point for the region’s creative industries, both commercial and not-for-profit. As an innovative public-private partnership, we have been an incubator of talent, a catalyst for the creative economy here in Dubai, a convener of great minds, and an entry point to this vibrant ecosystem for the wider cultural sector."
"Partnerships and collaboration have always been at the core of Art Dubai’s activity, and we play a role that is more than an art fair — we’re an institution in our own right, and we want to be the moment that brings all the key players together," Ghione tells The National.
"Collaborating with our colleagues and friends in Dubai is at the heart of what we do, but we also aim to reflect our wider role as convener of great minds and thinkers across the Global South, which is why we have chosen to partner with some of the key organisations from South Asia on our commissions programme for the upcoming fair."
Art Dubai 2023 will feature a set of new site-specific commissions, alongside premieres from established international artists. Running alongside this are a conference, talks and an educational programme, in support of the development of Dubai's cultural infrastructure.
The Artist Commissions are themed around food, community, connection, celebration and hope, with creatives representing Art Dubai galleries, alongside some leading institutions from South Asia. Ghione says the fair is "delighted" to work with a "community of cultural institutions" including Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, Britto Arts Trust, Ishara Art Foundation, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Kochi-Muziris Biennale and Samdani Art Foundation.
She explains: "When thinking about our Art Dubai Commission for this year, we felt it was important to have a performative element which would celebrate the breadth of artistic practices in South Asia, as well as spotlight the key organisations supporting art and artists from the region.
"Together, we selected contemporary artists from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE, who will present work alongside five artists from our participating galleries. They are Prajakta Potnis (Project 88), Rathin Barman (Experimenter), Gunjan Kumar (Exhibit320), Anoli Perera and Tayeba Begum Lipi (Shrine Empire)."
She adds: "We also think that universal human themes such as hope, community and connection are more important than ever, so the commissioned site-specific works and performances will all be themed around these topics, and some of them will come to life through food-based experiences."
Refik Anadol, who works with the aesthetics of data and machine intelligence, will also launch his new commission, which is part of an initiative from Art Dubai's partner, Swiss wealth management group Julius Baer, to explore interdisciplinary trends across the arts, science and technology.
Art Dubai will also introduce UAE First Immersion, a presentation of new works from a group of digital artists, created after a visit to the UAE in November. UAE First Immersion forms part of an expanded second edition of Art Dubai Digital, which also includes collaborations with organisations developing new institutional models, such as Lian Foundation and the Open Metaverse project from NFT collector Punk6529.
Ghione describes Art Dubai Digital as the fair's "annual snapshot of what is happening in the digital art world, a place that is breaking down the traditional models in many areas, and certainly in the art world". She adds: "It’s such a fast-moving and rapidly developing space and we want to reflect this energy and creativity.
"To work with some of the very best names in crypto art — and our friends at MORROW collective — on a project that’s so tied to the UAE through their time here and being inspired by the city, is truly a fantastic opportunity. The presentation will feature new works by artists including Coldie, Colborn Bell, Monaris, Bryan Brinkman, Kirk Finkel and Raphael Torres, and the works will be made available first to collectors at Art Dubai 2023."
The event will also mark the 10th anniversary of Art Dubai's professional development initiative, Campus Art Dubai, which is set to expand to include placements with local partners including Alserkal Avenue and Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai and Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi. The fair will also present a new group exhibition curated by Dania Al Tamimi, an artist and researcher who lives in the UAE.
Ghione says the fair has also been listening to what audiences want following the pandemic. "There's a real desire — in general as well as in the art world — to bring people together. This is why we have expanded our thought leadership programming this year to include a two-day edition of the Global Art Forum, our flagship talks programme, and in addition, we will also be hosting the first Dubai edition of Christie’s Art+Tech summit."
The 16th Global Art Forum, a transdisciplinary conference commissioned by Shumon Basar, will explore the theme Predicting the Present and the question, "If it's the end of history and the end of the future, what happens next?"
Elsewhere, the programme will mark the region's first Christie's Art+Tech summit. Now in its sixth outing, the summit will include talks from artists about how they are incorporating technology in their practices. It will also bring together regional and global leaders, innovators and artists to explore current and future challenges and opportunities, and discuss the intersection of art and technology.
Art Dubai will also highlight the role that collectors and philanthropists play in supporting the development of the region’s cultural infrastructure, through a series of Collector and Modern Talks, presented in partnership with the institutional art collection, Dubai Collection.
The fair's artistic director, Pablo del Val, says the programme marks one of its strongest ever gallery line-ups, "complemented by an expanded commissioning and thought leadership programme, highlights the breadth of discourse that is happening here, and offers a glimpse into the past, present and future of this important region".
Del Val adds: “As the global art fair landscape shifts, Art Dubai continues to play an important role in profiling and supporting the cultural ecosystems of the Global South and the programme this year fully reflects this region’s growing importance, energy and vibrancy."