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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Intersect: Artists from US, Middle East and North Africa collaborate for online fair

Participating galleries include those in Beirut, Dubai and Jeddah

Jeddah's Athr Gallery will be showing an embroidered textile from Sultan Bin Fahad's 'Madinah' from the 'Holy Economy' series (2020). Courtesy Intersect Art and Design
Jeddah's Athr Gallery will be showing an embroidered textile from Sultan Bin Fahad's 'Madinah' from the 'Holy Economy' series (2020). Courtesy Intersect Art and Design

The Intersect group of art fairs is holding its California event as an online collaboration between galleries from the south of the state, the Middle East and North Africa.

The digital exhibition shows how art fairs are reacting to the realities of Covid-19 – with Art Dubai, for example, spreading out across the city, and Frieze starting a membership scheme – but also how smaller fairs are remaining welcome hosts to galleries beyond art world centres.

Intersect Art and Design was launched last year by brothers Tim and Dirk von Gal, who acquired the fairs Art Aspen, Sofa Chicago and Art Palm Springs, and revamped them as Intersect-branded events.

Beirut's Galerie Tanit is showing frescoes by Dubai artist Chafa Ghaddar. Here, Corps 3 (2019). Courtesy Intersect Art and Design
Beirut's Galerie Tanit is showing frescoes by Dubai artist Chafa Ghaddar. Here, 'Corps 3' (2019). Courtesy Intersect Art and Design

They recruited Becca Hoffman, director of the Outsider Art Fair, as head, and went forward with online fairs for Aspen and Chicago, which each had a mix of about 100 art and design galleries.

But with the coronavirus pandemic worsening in the US, for the Palm Springs show, Hoffman had to rethink the numbers and the method.

She took a more curatorial approach for Intersect 21, putting together an online exhibition drawing from 21 galleries in the Middle East, North Africa and California. Each brings 21 artworks to a show that will be live on the Intersect website from next Tuesday, until Monday, February 22, and on the art website Artsy until Monday, March 15.

Those participating include Saleh Barakat Gallery and Galerie Tanit from Beirut; Leila Heller Gallery from New York and Dubai; Zawyeh Gallery from Dubai and Ramallah; Athr Gallery from Jeddah; Tintera from Cairo; Galerie Tindouf from Marrakesh; and Peter Blake Gallery from California.

The choice of locales was inspired by the fact the three share certain elements of their landscapes, says Hoffman.

“It was partially inspired by our prior exhibitor base and partially by future projects that I’d like to do on the ground in Palm Springs. One of which would be called the ‘Desert Exchange’, in which we invite galleries from a specific desert region each year to participate.”

Rebecca Proctor, former editor of Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia and a long-time Dubai art writer, served as curatorial advisor. The works on sale include art and design, and a mix of big names such as Ahmed Mater from Athr, and emerging ones such as Chafa Ghaddar, a Lebanese artist in Dubai who shows with Galerie Tanit.

Becca Hoffman is the new director for Intersect art fairs. Courtesy Intersect Art and Design
Becca Hoffman is the new director for Intersect art fairs. Courtesy Intersect Art and Design

The set-up is between exhibition and fair. Each gallery will foreground three artworks on their home pages, with the full roster in online viewing rooms. The galleries pay a fee to be hosted and they take home the proceeds of the sales (a nominal percentage applies for sales over a certain amount).

While Intersect will return to a physical fair format when the situation allows, the online show offers advantages such as a lower barrier to entry for new galleries. Two new galleries are using Intersect 21 as their fair debut: design gallery Le Lab from Giza and Artzotic from Amman.

The Intersect team are also thinking about how a fair can have a year-round presence rather than intermittent events. They ran a programme of online conversations last year, and Hoffman says more curated activities are on the roster. “I’m definitely a big fan of thinking outside the box and not following the crowd.”

Intersect 21 runs from next Tuesday until Monday, February 22, at intersectfairs.com; and until Monday, March 15, at artsy.net

Updated: February 15, 2021 02:34 PM

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