Art Dubai’s 12Th Edition Closes As It Celebrates Its Most Diverse Iteration To Date

MARCH 28, 2018, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The 12th iteration of Art Dubai, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai closed this Saturday having welcomed 28,000+ visitors, that included representatives from 106 international museums and cultural institutions and an increase of 18% in ticket sales.

Art Dubai 2018 welcomed 105 galleries from 48 countries across its Contemporary, Modern and Residents sections, including first-time participating countries Ethiopia, Iceland, Ghana and Kazakhstan, marking the fair’s most diverse edition to date and reaffirming its position as the most global of art fairs.

Maria Mumtaz, Director at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, one of Dubai’s leading galleries and longtime exhibitor at Art Dubai, commented: “Art Dubai gets better every year and there is such a great mix of regional and international art. It’s so wonderful to see new galleries and artists from South America, Azerbaijan and other areas that were not present in previous editions.”

Art Dubai Modern presented museum-quality work by masters from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, whose work has been influential throughout the 20th century and featured 16 galleries from 14 countries with solo, two-artist and group exhibits.

Mark Hachem, Director of his eponymous gallery and first-time exhibitor said: “We’ve met wonderful collectors and the sales were fantastic. The interest we’ve had in our programme was amazing. It’s our first time in Art Dubai – we’re very happy to be here and we will definitely be back.”

This year’s edition saw the launch of Residents, a new programme-cum-gallery section, which saw 11 artists from all over the world come to the UAE for a 4-8 week residency at both in5 and Tashkeel in Dubai, and Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi. Works produced during this time were presented in the final exhibition at the fair.

106 museums and institutions visited the fair with curators and museum professionals, from, amongst others, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Musée du Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, the Palais de Tokyo, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, as well as a range of UAE-based institutions such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Art Foundation, Art Jameel and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize (2009-2018), celebrated its 10th edition during Art Dubai 2018, and announced that its full collection will move to the Jameel Arts Centre on long-term loan, to be displayed there from the opening of the Centre on November 11, 2018, the eve of Dubai Design Week.

Outside the gallery halls, highlights of this year’s fair included the unveiling of Walled Unwalled (2018), Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s winning work for the Abraaj Group Art Prize.

Walled Unwalled, 2018 Video installation, loop 20 minutes, 2K video, stereo sound, 400cm x 225cm glass. Lawrence Abu Hamdan describes his artwork as: In the year 2000 there was a total of fifteen fortified border walls and fences between sovereign nations. Today, physical barriers at sixty-three borders divide nations across four continents. As these walls were being constructed, millions and millions of invisible cosmic particles called muons descended into the earth’s atmosphere and penetrated metres deep, through layers of concrete, soil and rock. Scientists realised that these deep penetrating particles could be harvested, and a technology could be developed to use their peculiar physical capacities to pass through surfaces previously impervious to x rays. Muons allowed us to see for the first time the contraband hidden in lead lined shipping containers and secret chambers buried inside the stone walls of the pyramids. Now no wall on earth is impermeable. Today, we’re all wall, and no wall at all. Historically walls have been both an architectural and legal device. Legal in that they define the limits to a city and its jurisdiction while also the walls of the home have been the barrier between public (civic) and private life. The history of the self and the citizen and the notion of the enclosed room, city or nation are intertwined. What does it mean for us as subjects that we are now building more walls than ever and more to the point what implications does this have now that the wall is no longer physically or conceptually solid or impenetrable.

A rich programme of performances at this year’s iteration of The Room, presented by Khaleeji artist collective GCC and entitled GOOD MORNING GCC; and the presentation of Meem, the winning work by Ayman Zedani, winner of the inaugural Ithra Art Prize.

Part of Art Dubai’s extensive educational programming, the 12th edition of the Global Art Forum, which is held in strategic partnership with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) discussed the highly topical issue of automation, in “I AM NOT A ROBOT”, while in Art Dubai’s Modern section, the Modern Symposium celebrated its 2nd edition.

A new partnership between Art Dubai and the Misk Art Institute, saw a variety of joint programming at the fair. In addition to being the exclusive partner of Art Dubai Modern, the Misk Art Institute supported the non-selling exhibition That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life, curated by Dr. Till Fellrath and Dr. Sam Bardaouil; dedicated sessions in Art Dubai’s Modern Symposium; and presented Reframe Saudi, a Virtual Reality documentary film that explores Saudi Arabia by looking inside the studios of contemporary artists – a popular and much sought-after attraction at the fair.

Another key aspect of Art Dubai’s longstanding commitment to education and the development of the UAE’s cultural landscape, the 6th edition of the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program, held in partnership with The Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, featured artist Hiromi Tango in Healing Garden, an interactive installation that invited children to participate in creating a nurturing environment based on local plants and flowers.

Exhibitions by Art Dubai’s partners included From Pen to Thread: Des at the Julius Baer Lounge, a site-specific presentation by Swiss-Egyptian artist Karim Noureldin, which featured two large textile installations based on drawings made by the artist and produced in India; as well as Piaget’s third showcase at Art Dubai, presenting its latest high jewelry and watchmaking collection: Sunlight Journey. In collaboration with The Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Piaget revealed Summer Muse by Emirati artist Jawaher Alkhayyal, inspired by Maison Piaget’s Sunny Side of Life high jewelry collection.

Art Dubai 2018 was held in partnership with The Abraaj Group. The fair was sponsored by Julius Baer and Piaget, with Madinat Jumeirah as the home of the event. The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is a strategic partner of Art Dubai and supports the fair’s year-round education programme. The Misk Art Institute was the exclusive partner of Art Dubai Modern. BMW was the new car partner of Art Dubai.

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