Founder of Alserkal Avenue says the arts hub is ‘an ambassador of regional art to the rest of the world’
Abdelmonem bin Eisa Alserkal, the founder of Alserkal Avenue and patron of the arts, talks to The National about the much-awaited expansion and its impact on the UAE’s art and culture scene.
What inspired your patronage of Alserkal Avenue, and what have you found rewarding about the collaboration?
In the art capitals of the world, the homes that creative communities have found, whether in Chelsea, Shoreditch or Paris’s north-east arrondissements – these are the places that have then given inspiration to creative minds and fostered a creative economy that is self-sustaining and self-perpetuating. That was my vision for Alserkal Avenue – to create a home for the creative community to explore and share ideas and support each other. We have watched this community grow organically, so that we now have a growing creative scene that has its own singular identity.
Has your involvement with contemporary art and design shifted or grown over time?
My father, an art collector and traveller, taught me a lot about art. It was partly his enthusiasm for art that encouraged and fuelled my interest in the field from an early age. When I went to the United States to pursue my higher education, it was my first exposure to the international art scene. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel around the world and develop my love for art. Among my many discoveries were the creative communities that have become imperative to the cultural landscapes of many cities.
What do you think Alserkal Avenue has done for Dubai as a whole?
With time we have become a hub for the region and this is a unique achievement. Alserkal Avenue has grown tremendously over the past six years. We have helped to develop a large number of creative organisations and we have supported creative industries by offering them a place to thrive. But I think our greatest achievements are always ahead of us – the opening of the Alserkal Avenue expansion will be a more inclusive destination, providing something of creative interest for everyone in the community.
Alserkal Avenue has developed as an arts organisation, with its own home-grown programming dedicated to supporting performance, public art and social practices by artists living and working in the Menasa region. By encouraging art that is collaborative and participatory, Alserkal Avenue looks to further strengthen the art ecosystem by ensuring artists have opportunities to create work that is not typically supported by the regional market.
What are you most excited about in the new expansion? And who is the audience?
The local community is what gives us our raison d’être. We’ve grown together with the arts scene of the UAE and, over time, we’ve developed a symbiotic relationship with the cultural landscape of the city. Alserkal Avenue has become a destination for contemporary art, housing the region’s most prominent home-grown galleries. We’re welcoming international galleries to Alserkal Avenue now, but the interest of the local community is imperative for the sustainable growth of the arts community and its infrastructure.
Where do you see Alserkal Avenue in 10 years?
I can only hope that Alserkal Avenue continues to grow as it has so far, organically expanding the UAE’s creative community and becoming an ambassador of regional art to the rest of the world.
Published: November 14, 2015 04:00 AM