Art Dubai 2011 Is Over With Strong Sales & Record Attendance
Art Dubai was presented Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai.
Welcoming a total of 81 galleries from 34 countries—with one-third of the participants based in the Middle East, one-third in Europe and one-third in the United States and Asia. This year’s Art Dubai, the first organised under the leadership of Fair Director Antonia Carver, is also the most diverse and forward-looking to date for the Middle East’s largest contemporary art event.
“Dubai has been a trading post and meeting point for South Asia, Iran, the Arab world and Africa for hundreds of years,” said Antonia Carver. “Over the past decade, Dubai has become the commercial art centre of the region and a city of ideas and entrepreneurship, providing homegrown support for artists, exhibitions and galleries. Through the fair and our platforms for dialogue, Art Dubai has been an integral part of this development and while rooted in the region, we are committed to looking to the future and continuing our role as a catalyst linking Asia and the Middle East with the rest of the world.”
Antonia Carver continued, “We aim for Art Dubai to be a fair of discovery – for the international collectors, curators, artists, gallerists and museum groups that attend the fair aiming to catch up on all that’s happening in the Middle East and South Asia, and for those based in the region to engage with the most dynamic of international galleries. At Art Dubai, these audiences will be able to discover the work of more than 500 artists, as presented in booths, installations, performances, dispatches, talks and screenings.”
Showcasing paintings, sculpture, photography, works on paper and video installations from a host of first-timers as well as returning galleries, the fifth edition of Art Dubai features exciting work from emerging artists and museum-quality masterworks. The fair features an ambitious range of galleries, with more than a dozen significant, curatorially focused galleries exhibiting in the Middle East for the first time; an increased number of single-artist gallery shows, allowing viewers to delve into an artist’s practice in depth; and the strongest showing of galleries from Turkey and South Asia to date.
This year also sees the debut of MARKER, a new platform for experimental art spaces from Asia and the Middle East showcasing projects by emerging artists. Curated by Nav Haq, this section includes five dynamic project spaces: Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (Alexandria, Egypt), GREY NOISE (Lahore, Pakistan), Liu Ding’s Store (Beijing, China), Makan (Amman, Jordan) and Ruangrupa (Jakarta, Indonesia). Each organisation will present new projects that have been conceived specifically for Art Dubai and that bridge the gap between the commercial and curatorial components of the art fair.
Programming for the fair included Global Art Forum_5, a four-day series of discussions curated by a committee chaired by Shumon Basar, which explored how a changed world has changed audiences for contemporary art, how expectations have affected artists and their work, and how art and fashion collide. The result of a dynamic partnership between Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH), Ministry of Culture, Kingdom of Bahrain, this year’s forum is the most collaborative yet. Speakers included: Hans Ulrich Olbrist, Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes, and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery, London; Francesco Vezzoli, artist; Germano Celant, Director, Fondazione Prada; Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Founder, Barjeel Art Foundation; Wassan Al Khudhairi, Director, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art; and Vasif Kortun,Director of Research and Programs, SALT, Istanbul; Curator, UAE Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2011. Natascha Sadr Haghighian, this year’s Global Art Forum Artist-in- Residence, responds to the discussions through a bibliographic journey hosted on this website. 2011 also marks the launch of Forum Fellows, a programme that offers a group of young curators and artists from Abu Dhabi, Antakya, Dhaka, Karachi, Jerusalem and Tehran the opportunity to engage with all aspects of the fair.
In addition to the Global Art Forum, Art Dubai hosted a series of talks including On Collecting, focusing on arts patronage; Art Park Talks, which include performances, conversations and practical workshops; and THE BIG IDEA, a dynamic forum for UAE-based artists and designers, organised by Bidoun Projects.
Art Dubai Projects took an observational, almost anthropological approach to the gallery metropolis created by Art Dubai. The rich programme of new works and performances includes painters Ali Chitsaz and Mounira Al Sohl in collaboration with Bassam Ramlawi taking on the theme of ‘labour’ in a live mural; the commissioning of Oraib Toukan to create a new work within the grounds of the fair while Hrair Sarkissian has adapted an existing work that – in its new state – plays with the façade of Madinat Jumeirah; works created by Abbas Akhavan and Shaikha Al Mazrou during the Delfina Foundation’s eight-week residency programme in Bastakiya, with the support of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and Tashkeel; performative tours of the fair by Malak Helmy and Abhishek Hazra; a bank of radio dispatches from artists’ studios curated by The Island (Victoria Brooks and Andrew Bonacina); and Art Park, a series of films, talks and projects curated by Bidoun Projects that features retrospectives of video artists Wael Shawky and Sherif El-Azma.
The largest and most diverse edition to date, Art Dubai experienced strong sales during its 2011 presentation from 16-19 March and attracted more than 20,000 guests, with a 30 percent increase in international visitors. Underscoring its role as a vital cultural meeting point connecting the Middle East and Asia with the rest of the world, Art Dubai 2011 was attended by curators, collectors, gallerists, artists, museum directors and more than 60 museum groups.
Of the 81 participating galleries, the majority experienced strong sales from the outset with major purchases from international and regional institutions in addition to established and first-time collectors from the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the United States. A number of participating galleries, including Chatterjee & Lal and Chemould Prescott Road (Mumbai), BISCHOFF/WEISS (London), Kalfayan Galleries (Athens /Thessaloniki), Sutton Gallery (Melbourne), Mah Art Gallery (Tehran), AB Gallery (Lucerne/Zurich), Grey Noise (Lahore), Gandhara-art (Hong Kong/Karachi), Pilar Corrias (London), Dirimart (Istanbul), Priska C. Juschka Fine Art (New York) and GALLERY ISABELLE VAN DEN EYNDE (Dubai) among others sold most of their available works at the fair.
“Spring 2011 marks a shift in the cultural life of the Gulf,” said Fair Director Antonia Carver, who is in her inaugural year leading Art Dubai. “Never before has there been such a level of international interest in the arts scenes of the MENASA or such a level of regional support for artists and their projects. Galleries at Art Dubai 2011 reported strong sales and the fair offered an unprecedented level of innovative artists’ projects and educational events, which we feel are part of what makes this fair unique.”
Exhibitors offered positive reports of their experience at the fair, including:
“Art Dubai has been really successful for us,” said Paola Weiss of BISCHOFF/WEISS (London). “I’ve noticed that there is now a solid Middle Eastern collector base, which has grown immensely over the past two years and now stands out to me. In general people seem more interested in collecting. Furthermore, arts patronage has really started to show.”
“We’ve had a great experience here,” said Adrian Turner, Senior Director, Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York). “Everyone seems very warm and inviting and we’ve accomplished more than we’d hoped. We’re coming back.”
“I had a great experience here at Art Dubai and really met a lot of people who are very interested in our work,” said Sappho Ma, Gallery Director, Connoisseur Contemporary (Hong Kong). “And equally important—the fair was satisfying as a human experience; great people, great parties and a great spirit.”
“Despite showing an artist with a proven track record in the region, we were overwhelmed by response both in terms of critical reception and sales,” said Mortimer Chatterjee of Chatterjee & Lal (Mumbai).
This year also saw particularly strong attendance from the more than 400 exhibited artists representing 57 countries, including Diana Al-Hadid, Liu Ding, Shezad Dawood, Hrair Sarkissian, Raafat Ishak, Slavs and Tatars, Timo Nasseri, Oraib Toukan, Wafaa Bilal, Sebastian Lütgert, Farhad Moshiri, Charlie Koolhaas, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Kamrooz Aram, Nabil Nahas, Abhishek Hazra, Kader Attia, Walid Raad and Nadia Kaabi-Linke.
Coinciding with Sharjah Biennial 10, the fifth edition of Art Dubai was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Her Royal Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum hosted Ladies Day at Art Dubai.
The international art world turned out to Art Dubai 2011 in record numbers, including museum groups and representatives from Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (Qatar), Qatar Museums Authority, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation (New York), MoMA (New York), Tate Modern (London), Hong Kong Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Sotheby’s Institute, Performa (New York), and Cartier Foundation (Paris).
Art Dubai Live, a new ongoing initiative, launched on 19 March at http://www.artdubailive.ae. All galleries’ booths are represented on the site with interviews filmed throughout the fair. Visitors to the site can also watch footage of the programmes that took place during this year’s physical fair, as well as those in the past.