Art Dubai 2012

The sixth edition of Art Dubai is back this week from 21st-24th March at the Madinat Jumeirah. This year's fair will feature 74 galleries from 31 countries across Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Australia, Asia and Africa.

But for me what makes Art Dubai an event I look forward to are the commissioned projects, talks and performances that happen alongside the fair.

Here are my top picks (the schedule is very extensive this year and I've added the relevant links at the end of this post):

The Hatch

An ordinary stairwell is transformed into an intimate space for film, video and artists’ talks. A rolling programme features archival documentaries curated by Bidoun Projects, videos by Radio for Example, and artists’ films presented in collaboration with galleries participating in Art Dubai.

To see the complete schedule, visit




Carlos Celdran is a cultural activist and a performing artist from the Philippines. He's been commissioned to perform seven acts in seven different parts of the fair which will be performed on every night of the fair. The selected locations will trigger an entertaining and engaging narrative, at the intersection of where geopolitics meets contemporary art. You can book a place on the tour at any of the information desks at Art Dubai.

Wednesday 21 March 18.00 - 19.00
Thrusday 22 March 18.00 - 19.00
Friday March 23  18.00 - 19.00
Saturday March 24 16.30 - 17.30



The Forum-Forum is a new multi-media repository, located in the Ballroom Foyer of Madinat Jumeirah, that assembles an alphabet of chairs and tables with an array of content. These include commissioned publications, curated projects, and new research, as well as art-works shown in Dubai for the first time. Each element paints its own idiosyncratic portrait of ‘The Medium of Media.’

A bit of shameless self promotion here, in Forum-Forum you will see a video I was commissioned to put togeter from the private library and archives of Aqeel Al Showab who has amassed 10,000-hour VHS/Betamax archive of Emirati TV from the 1970s to the 1990s (I wrote about him on this blog two years ago).

Visit to see the complete list of things you can see in Forum-Forum.


Global Art Forum from 21st-24th March on the Fort Island in Madinat Jumeirah
The Global Art Forum brings together is  protagonists of the art world for a week of conversations, with a particular emphasis on issues prevalent in the Middle East and Asia. This year's edition is directed by the estimable Shumon Basar

The theme this year is The Medium of Media and features commissioned projects and research, as well as live debates and presentations. I'm happy to say I'm part of the Global Art Forum this year and will be making a presentation "Mass Medium: Emirati TV on Home Video" on Saturday, 24th March (details below). 

Visit to see the complete schedule, but here are the talks I recommend you don't miss. Yes, including mine ~_~

MARSHALL, MEDIA & ME (Wednesday 21st March, 14.05-1500)
Novelist and artist Douglas Coupland (Generation X, Microserfs and JPod) explains how we ‘know nothing’ of the work of Canadian media-theorist Marshall McLuhan, who, in the 1960s, coined the phrases ‘the medium is the message’ and ‘the global village’. Coupland discusses the unknown nuances of McLuhan’s legacy with Serpentine Gallery Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Programmes Hans Ulrich Obrist and Shumon Basar.

Hans Ulrich Obrist talks with Egyptian artist Wael Shawky (and also one of this year's Abraaj Capital Art Prize-winner) about his recent project, which translated Amin Maalouf's 1983 book 'The Crusades Through Arab Eyes'into film-form.  Maalouf responds, via video, to questions about history and ambiguity, while Shawky shares his unique experience of working with a cast of Italian marionettes.

ARABIC ART GLOSSARY PROJECT (Wednesday 21st March, 16.30-17.00)
Curator Lara Khaldi leads a new collaboration between Art Dubai and Mathaf: an interactive Arabic Art Glossary platform. Over the course of a year, a database of art terms and definitions in Arabic will be built up, providing arts practitioners, institutions, students and translators with an unparalleled resource.

ARSHAFA E3LAMIYA: MIDDLE EAST NEWS ARCHIVE (Friday 23rd March, 14.00-15.00)
In this archive of the present, writer and researcher Mariam Wissam Al Dabbagh collects, compares and critiques the different way in which current events in the Arab world are narrated by Arabic and English speaking news media. It will also available to browse in the Forum-Forum (located in the Ballroom Foyer).

THE GCC: GULF COLLOQUY COMPENDIUM (Friday 23rd March, 16.00-16.15)
Writer and filmmaker Sophia Al Maria has written a ‘lexicon’ of the Gulf, a ‘vernacular digest of new words from the past and archaic phrases from the future’. It will be also available to read in the Forum-Forum (located in the Ballroom Foyer).

MASS MEDIUM: EMIRATI TV ON HOME VIDEO (Saturday 24 March, 15.00-15.30)
Blogger Hind Mezaina presents highlights from Aqeel al Showab’s 10,000-hour VHS/Betamax archive of Emirati TV from the 1970s to the 1990s. A private individual’s passion becomes de facto national archive. You will be able to see excerpts in the Forum-Forum (located in the Ballroom Foyer).

ART WORLD CARTOGRAPHY (Saturday 24 March, 16.00-16.30)
Brusselssprouts have produced a dynamic, cartographic visual exploration of the Dubai art world, distilling more than 2500 entries spanning from galleries, exhibitions, fairs, artists, curators, patrons and any art event produced in U.A.E. since 2005. They explain to Shumon Basar how the map came about and what it reveals. Also displayed in the Forum-Forum (located in the Ballroom Foyer).

I leave you with some highlights from Art Dubai 2011. I strongly suggest you free up a day or two or four to attend this fair and the events listed above. I plan to be there everyday, so if you are around, come and say hello.