The Art fair has adapted its format for its return. New location, longer edition, a new sculpture park… Find out more of this year’s edition.
It is no surprise that Art Dubai 2021 is a rather different fair to its predecessors. Not only has it been adapted to meet Covid-19 guidelines with purpose-built structures in a new location (DIFC), it has also scaled down.
With the number of participating galleries cut by almost half compared to previous years, Art Dubai will welcome 50 galleries this year, mostly from countries in the Global South. In addition, participating galleries have been charged a reduced fee, and, unlike the typical model, will pay a percentage towards it only after sales have been completed.
When it comes to programming, Art Dubai has dropped its usual curated sections and postponed its performances to 2022. However, it will still present its annual Campus Art Dubai show, which focuses on emerging artists, and will hold the Global Art Forum later this year.
Another new development for 2021 is the extended runtime for the fair, which will now last for six days instead of four. As Art Dubai begins on Tuesday, March 29, here are a few highlights from the galleries and fair’s programme.
What to expect, see and discover this year?
- Hussain Sharif works on view. For Art Dubai, Salwa Zeidan Gallery is showing a work from 2017 titled Faces #2. The installation comprises several food cans flattened and stripped of their labels, laid out on the floor. The artist has intervened with the material by cutting out holes to make the pieces appear as masks or faces.
- International artists to look for: Anish Kapoor’s Random Triangle Mirror from 2019 at Galleria Continua. Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets painting from 1997 will be on view at Custot Gallery’s booth. Norungi, a vibrant and geometric sculpture by Rasheed Araeen, a Karachi-born artist whose works have been shown at the Tate in London, is presented at Aicon Art, while a large-scale painting by Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul is on view at Ayyam Gallery’s booth.
- Sculpture Park at DIFC (the plaza around the Gate Building): large-scale installations of different works on sale, including Dia Al Azzawi’s White Obelisk, a totem-like sculpture that bears features of a human face, from Meem Gallery; Bernar Venet’s towering 8 Acute Unequal Angles from Custot Gallery; and Costas Varotsos’s Horizon from Giorgio Persano Gallery.
- Ithra Art Prize 2020 unveiled: Launched in 2017, the Prize recognises artists living in or from Saudi Arabia, with the winning work displayed at Art Dubai each year. With last year’s fair going virtual due to the pandemic, the Ithra Art Prize 2020 has not been displayed in public until now. Architect and urban designer Fahad bin Naif is the recipient of the prize for his installation Rakhm, which translates to “incubation”.
- Video Art: 10 screening stations set up across the venue including titles produced by more than 20 regional and international artists, including Ahaad Alamoudi, Jonathas de Andrade, Nikhil Chopra, Berkay Tuncay and Tsedaye Makonnen.
- More galleries from the Global South: Experimenter gallery from Kolkata, a regular at Art Basel and Art Basel Hong Kong. It is presenting the works of Ayesha Sultana, Praneet Soi and Prabhakar Pachpute, among others. There are also two galleries from the Philippines, Silverlens and Tropical Futures Institute, as well as a number from Africa, including Gallery 1957 from Accra, Addis Fine Art from Addis Ababa and Circle Art Gallery from Nairobi.
To help navigate its new layout and location, Art Dubai has launched an app for visitors. Through the app, users can book a time slot to visit the fair, which allows organisers to keep track of how many people are present on the ground. The app also gives information on the exhibiting galleries and artworks around the fair, as well as a guide to other cultural events happening in the UAE.