The growing COVID-19 pandemic seemingly does not to want to settle for its already devastating medical consequences. In the cultural sphere, the virus has simply decimated the international agenda, causing the cancellation of many concerts, exhibitions, and other international events including the highly anticipated VivaTech. Nevertheless, the Dubai International Art Fair is not giving up the fight. It simply chose to relocate… online!
Under normal circumstances, this 14th edition of Art Dubai would have attracted tens of thousands of visitors. Which explains why it was more than problematic for the event to announce its cancellation, or even its postponement to the following year. In response, the organizers thought it would be better to simply dematerialize it.
“Nourishing the artistic ecosystem”
Only two days ago, Art Dubai launched its 100% digital version. It consists of an online art gallery, gathering over 500 curated works of art, and a platform in which performance artists can post their videos. In addition, it includes an exclusive format, broadcasted as the “Newshour Special”, a sort of condensed virtual version of the Global Art Forum, featuring personalities from the art world to discuss the pandemic and its implications.
In addition to bringing visibility to artists and keeping the international art scene alive, it is also about supporting local cultural life. “Adapting to a digital agenda allows us to maintain our mission of supporting galleries and nurturing Dubai’s artistic ecosystem, even in these difficult circumstances,” Art Dubai directors Chloe Vaitsou and Pablo del Val announced in a joint statement to CNN.
Preserving art, in spite of everything
While we must undoubtedly remain realistic about the impact of this health crisis, on the world economy, and perhaps even more on culture, as not typically considered as a priority to be saved, the organizers still choose to see the glass as half full. The internet guarantees inclusiveness, freely sharing content to as many people as possible. This 2020 edition can serve as a new reference point for the organization and modernized methodology.
A painting of Moslem Khezri from the Saradipour Art Gallery
“People still tend to prefer the consumption of physical art,” said the two directors. “But if initiatives such as catalogues and online platforms prove popular, this could demonstrate how digital and online businesses can potentially become a growing addition to the way art fairs and gallery programs are delivered in the future.”
Works, artists, and galleries of all kinds
Thus, on the Art Dubai website, in the “catalogue” section, an extremely vast selection of artists and galleries from all over the world are available to indulge in, including the Akka Art Project of Dubai and Venice, honoring African art, and the Zawyeh Gallery in Ramallah, showcasing the young talents of Palestinian contemporary art. One can also find works of the Athr Gallery in Jeddah, which we wrote about on here a few months back, or Lawrie Shabibi, a gallery based in Dubai, taking on the abstract, with presentations of multi-generational works.