Not just an art marketplace: Abu Dhabi Art expands organically

Abu Dhabi Art has outlined an expanded programme and named the curators and some of the artists who will be participating in its ninth edition, to be held 8 to 11 November 2017 at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

Under its new director Dyala Nusseibeh, Abu Dhabi Art will again offer a broad programme of public engagement beyond the four-day art fair. There will be installations and exhibitions, talks and events during the fair and beyond.

Dyala Nusseibeh, Fair Director, Abu Dhabi Art

Beyond is the exhibition of large-scale sculptures and installations located in exhibition throughout the city of Abu Dhabi. This year there’s an extended off-site programme that will become an annual part of the initiative – Beyond: Artist Commissions. For 2017, Manal Al Dowayan, Magdi Mostafa and Nasser Al Salem – all established contemporary artists – have been commissioned to make works for this initiative.

Another new element is Beyond: Emerging Artists. Mohammed Kazem and Cristiana de Marchi will select three emerging UAE-based artists to work o with them on a tailor-made programme that will result in works to be exhibited Abu Dhabi Art and for two months afterwards.

Maya Allison, NYUAD Art Gallery

NYUAD Art Gallery’s Chief Curator Maya Allison has been invited to curate an exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art as part of the Gateway section. This will draw curatorial connections between established UAE artists and their international peers, which should be interesting – there’s a natural tendency for the visitor to look inwards and restrict the frame of reference to what’s happening here, but in fact contemporary UAE artists often work in a context informed by international ideas and comparisons. Again, this show will remain on display after the November dates.

Another of Abu Dhabi’s institutional big-hitters, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Curator Munira Al Sayegh, has been invited to curate the Talks Programme for Abu Dhabi Art this year. The focus will be on local and regional art histories and narratives.

In the art fair proper, there will be a new section entitled Focus: Beyond Territory. Curated by Omar Kholeif from the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, this will provide smaller galleries and “a group of inter-generational artists” with a Middle Eastern audience for the first time.

Back for the fifth time is Abu Dhabi Art’s performing arts programme Durub Al Tawaya, curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh. As before, the programme will see site-specific performances throughout the fair itself and in different locations throughout the city.

Also returning is the Street Art programme introduced last year. Again the curator is Fabrice Bousteau who will be commissioning new work.

Much of the expansion will be down to the new director. Dyala Nusseibeh says her team is confident that this will be “the most engaging edition to date”, and is keen to emphasise the local relevance that can easily get lost in the rarefied commercial atmosphere of the fair. “Working with local and regional galleries, institutions, curators and artists, remains a key focus for us,” she said. “We are laying the foundations for initiatives that we hope will contribute in a meaningful way to the existing and evolving art eco-system of the Emirate and the UAE”.

The full programme will be announced in the coming months – keep an eye on the website here.

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