• Market
  • Mar 16, 2016

Highlights from Art Dubai 2016

Happy Birthday Art Dubai! To celebrate its 10th year, the leading art fair of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia brought together the largest and most diverse roster of participants with 94 galleries from 40 countries—new to the fair are galleries from Georgia, Ghana, Lithuania, Oman, Palestine, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. From Art Dubai Modern to Art Dubai Contemporary, viewers get the opportunity to see works by 500 artists who represent 70 nations. During the press conference, fair director Antonia Carver also highlighted that, for this edition, 45 percent of the participating artists are female, a testament to the “strong role women are playing in the arts in the region” over the past few years—much of which, according to Carver, can be attributed to an increase in higher education for women in the Gulf region, beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

For Art Dubai's Marker section—a focus gallery program that looks at particular geographic sectors and their relation to the Gulf region and the Arab world—the spotlight was turned toward the Philippines, a country who has roughly 700,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) living in the UAE, with 450,000 residing in Dubai. Curated by artist and researcher Ringo Bunoan, the Philippines's first showcase at an international art fair casts a look at four new artist-run spaces in Manila—98B, Post Gallery, Project 20 and Thousandfold—all who have been active within the past five years. The alternative spaces are represented in Marker by 15 young and emerging artists, who work across various media ranging from videos to photographs, works on paper, soft sculpture and textiles. Bunoan explained that she wanted to present artists who “create works that go against institutional and commercial expectations” and also show practices that extend beyond figurative painting, a genre commonly found in contemporary art production in the Philippines. Here, the Philippine focus also pays tribute to Filipino conceptual artist, teacher and curator Robert Chabet (1937–2013), who, starting from the 1970s up until his death, was a strong supporter of young artists and alternative practices in Manila.

Among the tightly-packed programming at Art Dubai 2016, visitors will see projects by Art Dubai Commissioned Artists scattered throughout the fair's venue at Madinat Jumeirah. Also not to be missed is the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2016 exhibition, “Syntax and Society,” guest-curated by Nav Haq, featuring artist-duo Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. Their new 10-minute video Only the Beloved Keeps Our Secrets (2016), commissioned for the prize, incorporates footage from an Israeli military surveillance camera. The exhibition additionally includes works by the three other shortlisted artists: Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khaled and Basir Mahmood. Running throughout the course of the fair is the 10th edition of the Global Art Forum—a program of performances and live talks—which will have a slight sci-fi leaning, with speakers that include a space archaeologist, an economist and artists discussing the future through the lens of the past in a series entitled “The Future Was.”

Here's a look at Art Dubai 2016 on preview day. The fair runs from March 16 to 19, 2016, at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

Sylvia Tsai is associate editor at ArtAsiaPacific.