Studio Visits! As a practicing artist, getting to see the creative spaces of other artists is very important. I chose to do a three studio visit tour in Dubai. The first artist we visited was Manal AlDawayan, a woman artist from Saudi Arabia. Her mixed media projects involve the idea and process of forgetting, memories and archives and looks specifically at Saudi culture and the role of women. Since she invited us to her home, she did ask that we not share images on the internet, but her view was amazing! She uses photography, scale and sculpture in her work. She also had another artist there with whom she has collaborated with at the Robert Rauschenburg Residency in Florida. Kim Faler is an artist who teaches at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts and her work is focused on the overlooked or mundane through architecture and design.
The next space we visited was the studio of Cristiana di Marchi and Mohammed Kazem. di Marchi’s work on display used photography, propaganda, embroidery and tapestries to explore ideas of translations and dimensions, both physical and nominal. Kazem’s work is highly conceptual, and he is working on a project involving new media and formalist language. Kazem represented the United Arab Emirates at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Their studio space was in a warehouse district known as Al Quoz, where more and more artists are coming to create a community.
The last studio space we visited was that of the calligraffiti artist El Seed. El Seed is a street artist that travels the world working in communities to create art that speaks to them. His style combines the traditional Arabic calligraphy and the style of graffiti to create fantastic paintings. He had recently returned from a three week project in a neighborhood in Cairo, and spoke about perceptions and how labels had effectively caused discrimination against this Christian neighborhood that recycles the city’s trash. He said that this experience was the best he had ever had, and by working with over 40 households to obtain permission to paint, had created one of the most unique pieces of street art I’ve ever seen. He has remained true to his passion, which is working in the streets. If he is not doing that, then there is no point, he explained.
After studio visits, we returned to Art Dubai, where I attended a few sessions of the Global Art Forum. The 10th edition of the Global Art Forum “explores the ways in which artists, writers technologists, historians, musicians, and thinkers have imagined and are shaping the future.” Half of he forum took place in London in January. The sessions I attended discussed The Future Was Cloud, commenting on the development of a digital cloud and where that takes us in the future, a Postcard From the Future, where the future of 2066 was described, and The Future Was Desert, a continuation of a session that was hosted in London in January.
I also attended two Terrace Talks; one about curating Farideh Lashi, and one about the BASMOCA, an online virtual private museum with the goal of bringing the art to everyone. Terrace Talks are a feature of the VIP Program at Art Dubai and explore relationships and networks between artists, curators and patrons. These are important for me as they are taking place in real time and discussing current topics that I might come across in the art world.