Autumn 2018

Art & Auctions
Immersive Art

Abu Dhabi Art’s vibrant four-day programme in November will feature exciting exhibitions, art installations and immersive educational programming 

Adynamic programme of engaging exhibitions, public talks, performance art and workshops will draw thousands of art enthusiasts to the 10th edition of Abu Dhabi Art.

The four-day show, from November 14 to 17, will be held at Abu Dhabi’s creative art centre Manarat Al Saadiyat.

Led by director Dyala Nusseibeh, Abu Dhabi Art 2018 is aimed at engaging visitors from Abu Dhabi, the wider UAE and from across the world. The public programme will launch in November with the beginning of the fair and will continue until January 2019.

Speaking to Arabian Knight on the highlights of the fair, Nusseibeh said: “Our Talks Programme, organised by Nada Shabout and Salwa Mikdadi will offer fresh insight into the regional art market and allow both new collectors and more established arts professionals to share information on challenges and opportunities in the market.

“Issues relating to art fakes, art trafficking and lack of data on art will be debated alongside a look at the role of museums, institutions and cultural events in the circulation of art. This year we are also excited to welcome Hammad Nasar as the curator of our annual exhibition, Gateway. He has conceived a wonderful exhibition themed around artworks that explore the built environment and language as structures through which meaning accumulates,” she said.

ATHR Gallery will be presenting a show entitled Letters which is based on the book “Letters to a Young Muslim” by Omar Ghobash and brings together artworks that respond to it.

In the Galleries section, curator Omar Kholeif has brought together icons of the art world – handpicking artists that have made a significant contribution to contemporary art today and spotlighting them through participating galleries, revealed Nusseibeh. 

“Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim has been working with three emerging artists on commissions to be revealed at the fair, whilst in Al Ain we have our site-specific art installations in Al Jahili Fort, Qasr Al Muwaiji and Al Ain Oasis where commissioned artists Imran Qureishi, Moataz Nasr and Ammar Al Attar will be creating works for these special places.  There is also a fantastic performing arts programmed curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh. So hopefully everyone will find their own highlights in our very busy programme,” she observed.

Nusseibeh said though the structure of the show is more or less the same as the last one, throughout the programming there will be new art for visitors to discover and engage with.

Asked if she sees the global art community’s interest growing in the region, she said: “Absolutely – in particular after the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi last year. That, in itself, has caused a huge jump in tourist numbers visiting the UAE.

“There is no single centre for the art world today, different hubs exist in every region, with different communities that feed into them, but Abu Dhabi will certainly become a prominent focal point in the next 10 years or so, in particular, once the other museum projects here have also opened,” Nusseibeh continued.

“Of course, initiatives such as the Sharjah Biennale have paved the way for this by bringing such outstanding shows to the UAE over the years and really engaging with the global art community on a serious level. Looking forward though, the UAE's existing cultural engagement with other countries is set to increase significantly; our leadership places culture at the centre of its development strategy for the country and this will be for the benefit of generations to come,” Nusseibeh reiterated.

She also said the public interest in art shows has grown significantly in the region. Abu Dhabi Art started 10 years ago with about 5,000 visitors in attendance and last year it welcomed over 20,000 visitors. Louvre Abu Dhabi welcomes thousands of visitors daily.

“In Saudi Arabia, we are about to see significant investments in art and heritage whilst in cities further afield, such as Beirut, private museums are opening up to the public and cultural philanthropy which is enabling art shows to take place, is on the rise,” she continued.

“Beyond art shows, culture is an important economic driver in cities and we are seeing an increase in the number of professionals in this field across the wider region. Of course, with the troubled politics of our time, this is not without obstacles and I haven’t touched on issues such as looting of cultural heritage and trafficking of art – but I hope some of your readers will attend our Talks to learn more about this.”

She also said the event will provide a platform for regional artists, in particular through the show’s commissions and exhibitions but also in collaboration with local and regional galleries.

On the widening scope of art and art shows and the latest trends, Nusseibeh added: “Looking at the Gulf in terms of art shows and the spaces that house them (e.g. museums), they are increasingly a means of cultural diplomacy,  a platform for connecting arts professionals globally and an engine for driving creativity and productivity in cities. There is significant investment in art on a government level across the Gulf countries in part for these reasons.

“Against this landscape and thanks to the powerful structures now being put in place from the top level down, it is time for more grassroots or artist-led organisations to also start developing the spaces they need to practice. So the trend I look forward to seeing develop is one driven by artists and art practitioners in the Gulf, who will create new spaces for creativity and new platforms for engagement,” hoped Nusseibeh.

In celebration of the 10th year anniversary of Abu Dhabi Art, the “Vernissage: Abu Dhabi Art Celebrates 10 Years!” will be held on November 14 featuring DJs and special performances. 

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