Art Dubai Day 1: Wednesday March 16th

It was a busy day at Art Dubai! As part of the Collector’s Circle program, I have access to curator led tours, artist studio visits and talks. On Wednesday, I decided to take part in a tour and lunch in Sharjah. Our first stop was the Sharjah Art Foundation spaces. I fell in love with their spaces last May when we visited, and I still think they have some unique spaces to showcase and display art. My favorite installation was titled Two Suns in a Sunset by the artists and filmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. The show is split into 21 separate pieces, with a focus on Beruit and personal events though imagery, representation and history. Much of their work is photography based, and I loved seeing the use of the medium being expanded and pushed. Another installation I enjoyed was the retrospective of Farideh Lashai. This late Iranian artist’s work spans over five decades, and can truly be called a multi-disciplinary artist. Paintings, drawings, sculpture and video installations were all featured.

After lunch, we visited the Barjeel Foundation and Mayara Art Center. The Mayara art Center show entitled Al Hakara Baraka: in movement there is blessing explores the mix of cultures in the UAE and the idea of cultural migration. One artist featured in this show is Ammar Al Attar, a photographer who documents people in his life that were in the country at the time of great change during the 1960s and 70’s. The Barjeel Foundation manages Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi’s personal collection, and the show currently on exhibit was Home Ground, which explores identity and its relationship with geography, and geo-political challenges that can be hard to navigate. Raafat Ishak wrote to 194 governments asking to be a citizen, and documented their responses both in text and in a painting with features of the flag from each country.

The last place we visited was the 1971 Design Space whose current show is a focus on design either made by local artists or inspired by the region. We received a tour by the guest curator Noor Aldabbagh, where she spoke about the seven different pieces on display. There was graphic design, furniture design and product design. Designer Roy Letterle of Studio Mieke Meijer spoke about the piece he co designed, which is installed on the balcony. Their work is often based on buildings that used to exist in a space but for this project they focused on heritage. Inspired by a house in the historic part of Dubai, they designed a multipurpose seating area for the space. The layout is actually a scale model of the house, and the incorporation of plants represents the somewhat cooler temperature that can be found in the courtyard of these traditional homes. It also focuses on the relationship with the landscape, as one can sit in the installation and look over the boats, which have been part of the development of the country since the beginning.

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