Abu Dhabi / Dubai Roundup
              Melissa Gronlund
              On November 17, Abu Dhabi Art opened to its VIPs: an event so popular authorities had to redirect traffic off the highway to a new exit. Now in its seventh year under this name, the art fair of the United Arab Emirates’ capital city hosts a smattering of blue-chip galleries—Lisson, Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner—as well as good lesser-known galleries from beyond art’s Western power centers, like Le Violon Bleu from Tunis or the Third Line from Dubai. It is held every November, and rather pales in comparison to the larger and better attended Art Dubai, in March. The local collecting scene is still forming, and one of the major buyers at the fair is the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, part of the trio of future museums—the others being the Louvre Abu Dhabi and a national museum designed by Norman Foster—whose promise dominates thinking about art in the city. A number of the panel discussions at the fair revolved around the new museums, including the starry talk by Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong, outgoing British Museum director Neil MacGregor, and Agence France-Muséums chair Manuel Rabaté (standing in for Louvre president Jean-Luc Martinez, who stayed in Paris because of the events there). The museums—the …
              Art Dubai
              Astrid Mania
              The adage that culture follows trade is something like globalization’s subtitle. When it comes to art fairs, however, trade follows culture. Art Dubai, now in its seventh year, seems to be a prime example of this reciprocal development. Among its participating seventy-five galleries, the fair is attracting a rising number from outside of the region. They have clearly identified Dubai as a promising marketplace where trade (money) and a growing interest in international contemporary art (culture) coincide. Still, some play it safe by presenting works that in one way or another are tied to Arabic or Muslim cultures. Three galleries from Berlin, all participating at Art Dubai for the first time, have chosen to take this route: Tanja Wagner has paired up pieces by Šejla Kamerić with new text-based work that takes its greenish color from night vision footage during the Iraq war by Beirut-born Annabel Daou; while Schleicher/Lange combine Berlin-born, half-Iranian Timo Nasseri’s geometric stainless steel sculptures with Czech artist Krištof Kintera’s Memorial of One Thousand and One Nights II (2013), a Babylonian tower of pillows serving as a soft monument to storytelling. Campagne Première has devoted their booth to a solo presentation by Algerian-born, Paris-based Fayçal Baghriche, who also …
              Art Dubai 2012
              Sarah Rifky
              “The Arab Spring is (not quite) Old News” Old news. That’s how Fred Sicre (of Abraaj Capital, Art Dubai’s partner) dubbed the Arab Spring. The flaming politics of the last year’s events have been reduced to the mere glimmers in the Emirati’s up-and-coming art fair. In the past three years, the fair has evolved significantly, gaining more composure and confidence—it has started trusting artworks. This year a new wave of galleries joined the fair for the first time, and the curated focus section featured a pick of galleries and spaces from Indonesia, selected by Alia Swastika, one of the curators of the upcoming Gwangju Biennial. Galerie Sfeir Semler (Beirut/Hamburg) presented a number of artists, whose works echoed elsewhere around the fair, including Walid Raad, Yto Barrada, Wael Shawky, and Hassan Sharif. This mini-show on Formalism is off-set nicely with a series of Khalil Rabah’s paintings of exhibition openings, including a rather large oil on canvas of a Damien Hirst opening (Art Exhibition: Damien Hirst, Zott, 2011). Local artist Hassan Sharif features in another section of the fair with a more extensive presentation of his work coupled to create some poetic parallels with the German-born Uruguayan artist Luis Camnitzer at Alexander Grey Associates. Sharif’s …
              Sharjah Biennial: 10 Plot for a Biennial (16 March-16 May, 2011) and Art Dubai (16-19 March, 2011)
              November Paynter
              There are few occasions in the art world calendar where a commercial fair and a biennial are as closely aligned in time and space as the Sharjah Biennial and Art Dubai. March 16th saw the tenth edition of the Sharjah Biennial titled “Plot for a Biennial”—curated by Suzanne Cotter and Rasha Salti with Associate Curator Haig Aivazian—open to a busy international crowd, many of whom would shift emirates that very evening to attend the opening of an event half its age with a very different agenda: Art Dubai. With the 10th Sharjah Biennial involving in excess of 80 artists and other cultural actors, it was no coincidence that many were also represented at the fair. Treating the Sharjah Biennial as a script for a film—”replete with plot and characters”—and a series of key themes, Cotter, Salti and Aivazian opened the floor to film-makers, writers and performers, as well as artists. Suggestions for characters and scenes could be sourced within various art works throughout the biennial, but the rhythm of an accumulating plot was less forthcoming. As in previous renditions of this biennial, and largely due to the layout of the museum and peripheral venues, many of the installations occupy very separate …

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