Abraaj Group Art Prize
In October last year, Rana Begum won the US$100,000 (Dh367,250) Abraaj Group Art Prize. The title is awarded each year to aid an artist realise a proposed project, which is later unveiled at Art Dubai.
Begum, a Bangladeshi-born, London-raised artist, is interested in the geometry of a city. Her brightly coloured, angular metal sculptures and installations look at the unexpected architecture of a city and, through their neat and repetitive structures, also allude to the idea of infinity. Represented by The Third Line, several more of Begum’s previous works will be on show in a solo presentation of her work.
Global Art Forum
Under the theme of “Trading Places”, this year’s GAF explores the trade of both goods and ideas. From ancient ports to the “New Silk Road”, from the algorithms of financial markets to pearls and airports, the discussions should be both fascinating and pertinent.
Highlights include writer William Dalrymple speaking about the history of the East India Company; an overview of Christo’s monumental projects by the artist; and Emirati photographer Farah Al Qasimi’s study of Dragon Mart, the largest trading hub for Chinese products outside of mainland China.
This is the thinker’s place at Art Dubai, and offers a chance to get involved in the intellect that underpins the event.
The Modern Hall at Art Dubai was launched in 2014 to shed light on art produced between 1940 and 1990. With only 15 galleries, the hall is comfortably condensed to allow visitors to delve deep into the history of art from the region.
This year’s edition has a new feature: Modern Symposium, a series of talks on the cultural impact of 20th-century modern artists.
Key sessions include Syrian artist Elias Zayat talking about his work, Deluge: The Gods Abandon Palmyra, and a look at the history of Islamic aesthetics covering artists such as Syed Haider Raza, Anwar Jalal Shemza and Hadi Hazavei.
The Room: Cooking Liberty
A 12-course dinner for 80 paying guests that takes cues from Salvador Dali’s cookbook, Les Dîners de Gala, will take place on three nights in Art Dubai’s immersive installation room. Hosted by a Beirut-based art collective called Atfal Ahdath (Vartan Avakian, Hatem Imam and Raed Yassin), guests will be treated with made-to-order cocktails, listen to live music and experience a live art installation. There are also day-time performances.
Art Dubai has commissioned Moroccan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Meriem Bennani to create an interactive bar installation, borrowing from the designs that beauty salons, massage parlours or entertainment parks use to encourage social interaction among strangers. Titled Ghariba/Stranger, Bennani’s installation will include viewing stations with video portraits of Moroccan women.
* Anna Seaman