Taking place in a new location under the iconic Gate Building at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Art Dubai 2021 is one of the first major physical art fairs to take place since the start of the pandemic from 29 March – 3 April, produced in accordance with the highest safety protocols including new innovations to ensure a safe and secure environment.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and hosted by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Art Dubai returns as one of the first in-person art international fairs of 2021, featuring 50 leading Contemporary and Modern galleries from 31 countries.
Reaffirming the fair’s commitment to providing a physical platform and marketplace for artists and galleries from across the Global South, visitors will encounter galleries from across the Middle East and South and East Asia, including from Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, Vietnam and Philippines. There is also strong representation from across the African continent including galleries from Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia. The fair will feature nine of Dubai’s top galleries as well as galleries from major and emerging international art centres.
Staged in a purpose-built venue at the iconic Gate Building in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Art Dubai will operate according to the highest COVID-19 safety protocols. Alongside standard social distancing procedures and regular testing of participants, the fair has introduced extra precautions to manage capacity to offer a safe and flexible environment for all. New measures in place include extending the fair dates and opening hours and the new Art Dubai App, allowing visitors to book dedicated time slots in advance to guarantee entry, stay up-to-date with the latest news and announcements, explore the exhibiting galleries and artworks and view the full programme.
H.E. Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, said: “Dubai’s inspiring status as a regional business and cultural hub is driven by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to strengthen opportunities for all in every sector. At DIFC, we have delivered on this vision by creating an iconic centre of finance that also encourages arts and culture through our commissioned works of art, ongoing cultural events and now hosting Art Dubai. The event will further shine the spotlight on the city and add to its reputation globally.”
Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “Art has always been an important part of Dubai and DIFC’s cultural offering. This year’s Art Dubai reinforces this message with the global art community especially because it provides one of the first opportunities following the pandemic for artists from around the world to collaborate, network and meet prospective buyers. The event also adds to the recently announced Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan given it enhances the quality of life of residents and reinforces the city’s appeal as a preferred place to live in, work and thrive. Hosting the fair contributes to DIFC’s reputation as one of Dubai’s leading lifestyle destinations and complements our ongoing art programme.”
Pablo del Val, Artistic Director of Art Dubai, said: “The arts sector has – like so many others – been significantly impacted by the events of the last 12 months and the central role that Art Dubai plays within both the cultural ecosystem of the UAE and the wider region has become more apparent than ever. By working closely with our community and by adopting Dubai’s progressive and ‘can-do’ way of thinking, we are delighted that we have been able to open doors to an in-person art exhibition and again welcome our audiences back to Art Dubai.”
In order to support the galleries exhibiting, the fair has introduced a number of new innovations. These include the Remote Participation Programme, which uses digital technologies to connect those participating galleries unable to travel to Dubai in person with fair visitors along with providing video introduction to the artworks on show; and a new payment scheme whereby galleries pay their participation fees based on their success at the fair.
Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director of Art Dubai, said: “Our team has been working tirelessly over the past year to innovate and re-think the fair model, which will be apparent throughout Art Dubai 2021. We have a new venue for this year, an innovative payment model for participating galleries and a remote participation programme specficially created for those galleries unable to travel to Dubai. Although some of these will be one-off initiatives reflecting the current times, others we expect to enhance for future editions”.
The fair will take place between 29 March and 3 April. The first three days will be by invitation only and the fair will open to the public from 1 – 3 April. Access to the fair will be via the new Art Dubai App where tickets can be purchased for AED 25 and children enter for free.
Other elements of Art Dubai’s 2021 programme include:
A curated Sculpture Park surrounding the DIFC Gate Building features large-scale installations by ten artists including: pioneering conceptual Emirati artists Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim and Hussain Sharif, Saudi artist Rashed Al Shashai, Iraqi painter and sculptor Dia Al-Azzawi and Algerian sculptor, print-maker and ceramicist Rachid Koraïchi alongside contemporary Mozambican artist Gonçalo Mabunda, Greek conceptual sculptor Costas Varotsos, Indian architect Tarik Currimbhoy, French conceptual artist Bernar Venet and Argentine-French multidisciplinary artist Pablo Reinoso.
Film Programme and 50 Years United Exhibition
As part of this year’s curatorial projects, Art Dubai will present a Film Programme comprised of screening stations located along DIFC’s Gate Avenue, featuring single-channel films produced by over 20 regional and international artists. Each is thematically categorised to curate a specific experience for the viewer that includes: Nature, Journeys, Dystopias, Conversations, Performances and Animations, among others. A station is dedicated to Art Dubai Portraits, an ongoing film series in partnership with BMW Middle East that provides perspectives into the lives and workspaces of artists connected to the fair.
Also in Gate Avenue, a recollective black and white photographic exhibition showcases images dating back to 2 December 1971, taken by Ramesh Shukla and the inspiration behind Art Dubai’s 2021 graphic campaign. 50 Years United is a visual commemoration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the nation and offers a journey down memory lane, with portraits of the Founding Fathers, vintage landmarks and traditional customs and heritage.
Campus Art Dubai 8.0
Curated by Munira Al Sayegh, an exhibition titled Plants, Animals, Minerals presents the culmination of Campus Art Dubai 8.0, that was supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and hosted by A.R.M. Holding. The latest edition of the six-month seminar and residency programme – providing Emirati and UAE-based artists with educational and professional opportunities – features five selected artists’ responses to the theme of symbiotic life in a parasitic world. The participating artists are: Ameena AlJarman, Layan Attari, Nahla Tabbaa, Zahra Jewanjee, and Zena Adhami.
Ithra Art Prize