An art fair from afar: Art Dubai 2020 goes digital

Dubai’s flagship fair launches online catalogue after coronavirus disrupts scheduled event

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Art Dubai has launched its online catalogue and performance programme on its website on Tuesday, March 24.

After announcing it would postpone its 14th iteration due to the coronavirus outbreak, fair organisers have turned to the digital realm to present more than 500 works from about 50 galleries. The works will be on view until the summer.

For its online catalogue, Art Dubai features standout works by Ibrahim El-Dessouki of Hafez Gallery, Pio Abad of Silverlens and Tanya Goel of Nature Motre, among others. Visitors can browse through the various mediums in the catalogue and search by artist or gallery. Prices are not listed online, but potential collectors will be able to fill out an inquiry form directly on the website.

Art Dubai told The National that it would provide galleries 50 per cent cash refund and 50 per cent credit on their booth fees for the next fair.

Maha Ahmed, 'They Lie Amongst Us'. Courtesy Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery and Art Dubai
Maha Ahmed, 'They Lie Amongst Us'. Courtesy Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery and Art Dubai

The fair’s performance programme has also been reformatted for the screen. Themed around healing, the programme features artists Angelo Plessas, Bahar Noorizadeh, Imaad Majeed, Tabita Rezaire and Tiago Sant’Ana, who have shared new and old video works on the site.

“We had no idea… what was coming our way. We came up with a programme that would look into healing as an act of togetherness and art… Who could imagine that just before the opening we would be confronted with an unprecedented “temporal convention” such as the one we are living through now?,” writes curator Marina Fokidis in her curatorial note. She adds that the programme intends to “establish a medicinal space for our collective therapy to exist.”

The annual Global Art Forum, the talks programme that runs alongside the fair, will broadcast a NewsHour Special about the coronavirus featuring artists and curators, including Emirati artist Farah Al Qasimi. The 2020 forum themed Do You Story? will go live on Wednesday, March 25 at 6pm UAE time (2pm GMT).

While organisers hoped to stage the fair later this year, they have announced that the next Art Dubai will take place in March 2021.

The art industry is just one of the many sectors economically hit by pandemic. Not only have institutions had to close their doors indefinitely, art fairs – a significant source of income for some galleries – have been cancelled too, including mammoth events such as Art Basel Hong Kong in February and Frieze New York in May.

The online catalogue and performance programme can viewed on