Alserkal Avenue has today launched an online platform with virtual tours of its contemporary art galleries.
On the website, which will open its digital doors at 7pm on Monday, March 23, visitors can conduct a 360-degree walkthrough of the current exhibitions inside the galleries, and click on tags that show artwork details and will also direct visitors to the website Artsy, where collectors can purchase pieces online.
There are also informative videos from gallerists discussing the works.
Highlights from the repository include the show New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives, which features the work of Moroccan artist Mohamed Melehi alongside other important figures in Arab modernist art.
The works of Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem are on view at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde; a solo show by Michael John Whelan is on view at Grey Noise; and The Third Line presents new works by Lamya Gargash. There is also the group show for the Al Burda Endowment Exhibition, which opened during Abu Dhabi Art in November and has now travelled to Dubai.
The shows were originally intended to open during Galleries Night, a yearly event that brings together artists, curators and collectors visiting for the March art season in the UAE. However, concerns over the continued spread of the coronavirus caused the arts organisation to suspend its programming on March 14. In a statement about the closure, Alserkal director Vilma Jurkute said: "What has come out of these past few weeks is that each of us has a role to play in limiting the spread of this virus ... As a community, we are conscious of our responsibility to safeguard our audiences as well as our fellow community members."
In that same week, Abu Dhabi’s cultural attractions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Cultural Foundation also temporarily closed. Art spaces such as Dubai's Tashkeel and Sharjah's Warehouse 421 and Sharjah Art Foundation also followed suit.
Since then, the UAE has taken stricter measures to contain Covid-19, including closing down malls and grounding passenger flights for two weeks on Monday. At the time of writing, the UAE has 198 confirmed cases and two deaths from the disease; 41 people have recovered from the virus in the country.
Other players in the UAE art scene are also looking to go digital as social distancing measures become more stringent. Art Dubai, for example, has also reconfigured its programme to produce more digitally oriented experiences.
These include an online catalogue of the works that were meant to be shown at the fair, plus a broadcast special of the Global Art Forum on Tuesday, March 24 and a virtual performance programme curated by Marina Fokidis. Institutions such as Jameel Arts Centre have also adopted additional online and social media initiatives – including sharing educational resources and uploading artist videos – to engage with audiences.