Art Dubai is a huge event on the annual art calendar and came back in 2015 for its 9th time. What happens in Alserkal is only a small part of what Art Dubai has to offer over this period from auctions, art weeks, gallery exhibitions, performances, biennials and so much more. For a country that didn’t have a strong art scene 10 years ago this is wonderful for the region, the regional artists and art lovers and investors alike. It has become a global art fair which is something Dubai is very proud of.
I along with the rest of Dubai’s art aficionado’s arrived at Alserkal Avenue on March 16 for the opening of the Dubai Art Week. This developing hotspot for arts and culture in the al Qouz part of Dubai, has a full and varied programme in celebration of Dubai Art Week 2015. And it is definitely worth a visit. More than 20 galleries and cultural spaces along the Avenue opened their doors to the public from 6pm – 9pm for an unveiling of new contemporary art exhibitions and events.
Parking as always is an issue in Dubai, but on nights like this even more so. The VIP’s who had a private viewing prior to opening to the public were still in attendance when we arrived there to enjoy the evenings soirée with the rest of the art scene’s general ‘riff raff’. The car fanatics amongst us were treated to Bentley’s, pimped out G-Wagon’s and Rolls Royce’s interspersed among the galleries. Most visitors were very stylishly dressed, some even sporting their trademark Louboutin’s for the occasion. At events such as these I enjoy people watching almost as much as I do seeing what the galleries have to offer, and by the looks of things I was not the only one.
Originally an old Marble factory Alserkal has been repurposed into gallery and creative spaces which have been juxtaposed with factories. Hardly a revolutionary concept in other major cities in the world. What it does locally is offer Dubai’s budding art scene a space of its own. Somewhere for patrons of the arts, artists and other creatives and likeminded people to share a space, and a coffee, and offer the growing art scene in Dubai a more professional forum that to date has been lacking. Having the art in one area is a wonderful concept because it offers visitors to the galleries a safe pedestrian space to amble around a wide variety of galleries as well as offering a café space to sit and relax between galleries.
Here are some visual illustrations of what Alserkal had on offer that night as well as some of the art works the galleries had on display.
Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Altarpiece (2015), a monumental glided triptych holds prints Kaabi-Linke has taken from the exterior of a bullet-holed WWII-bunker in central Berlin. The building has throughout its existence served several contradictory purposes, ranging from the German Reich Railway over a fruits storage (Banana Bunker) to a venue for hedonistic techno parties. The work functions as a metaphor for the eternal conversation of historical traces of painful memories. Open, the stigmata. When closed Altarpiece appears as a perfect golden square alluding to cultural and political strategies used to deny the past.
Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Tunisian Americans (2012) consists of 400 tiny Kohl-flacons containing a sample of the soil that surrounds 400 US military graves in Tunisia. The falcons are displayed within the grid boxes of 4 old type-cases and labelled with the corresponding social security number of the victims. In recording and ordering these uncomfortable memories she questions our relationship to physical objects as an aid to remembering and conversely to forgetting.
Nadia Kaabi-Linke, A short History of Salt and Sun (2013) is a transfer print taken from the salt-eroded walls of the Marsa Beach Railway stop. Once one of the most popular beach resorts, the piece signifies the decay and failure of mass-tourism in Tunisia. Unlike the older traditional buildings in its surroundings, this was modern and functional architecture built with supposed strong and lasting materials which was unable resist seaside conditions.
Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Driven by Storms (Ali’s Boat) – Take your boat and abandon your home from Ali’s Boat series, 2014, Indian ink, charcoal on canvas, 270 x 678 cm.
Susan Hefuna, I loved how the cast shadows from the wall sculptures became part of the whole piece.
There were some very interesting visitors to the gallery exhibits, and everyone had their own sense of style and panache.