Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Art Dubai’s mission to elevate Emirates into an Artistic Hub


Art Dubai’s mission to elevate Emirates into an Artistic Hub

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Benedetta Ghione

Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director at Art Dubai, spearheads the fair’s strategic direction and execution. With over 15 years in the art business and degrees in art history and contemporary art theory, she joined Art Dubai in 2015. Ghione prioritizes institutional engagement, artistic development, and professional education initiatives.

What is the effective role of Art Dubai in transforming the Emirates into an artistic center and an incubator for creative talents?

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Benedetta Ghione: We have adopted a multi-faceted approach, in global outreach, building foundations of exhibition making and intellectual discourse, and supporting emerging artists through commissions and major projects, all while building close relationships with galleries, partners and collectors. All of this has played an important role in making Art Dubai and the UAE a dynamic artistic center and a nurturing creative talent from the Global South.

Over the years, Art Dubai has become a meeting point of cultures and a platform for the global art community to discover arts from the Global South. Featuring over 120 modern, contemporary and digital presentations from over 60 cities and 40 countries, including emerging art scenes from cities like São Paulo, Tehran and New Delhi, we expand the artistic discourse beyond traditional centers like London, Paris and New York.

The World Art Forum, an annual interdisciplinary summit, has developed alongside the gallery over the past 17 years and grown into a major platform promoting constructive thinking and questioning about contemporary culture. Commissioned by Shumon Basar and curated by Nadine El Khoury, the upcoming edition of the Forum will be organized with a focus on extreme weather phenomena bringing together leading artists, architects and creative thinkers, including Dr. Stephanie Rosenthal, Director of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Anne Holtrop, Architect, Muharraq. (Amsterdam), Munira Al Qadiri, artist (Berlin), Samir Bantal, architect and director of AMO Studio (Rotterdam), Nadia Christidi, researcher and artist, from MIT, Cambridge (Mass.) and others.

We also collaborate closely with leading critics, scholars and historians to shape and advance conversations about the region’s history and art. This year, Dr. Christiana Bonin will organize the “Art Dubai Modern” section to highlight pioneers of modern art from Syria, Azerbaijan, Uganda and Sri Lanka. These artists created new modern styles influenced by their travels and education in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s. On the other end, there is the “Art Dubai Digital” section, which displays artificial intelligence, virtual reality, reproductive art and artworks immersive installation created by artists from the Global South, including many creative women. This section will be curated by digital art experts Alfredo Cramerotti and Oronda Scalera. Both sections will be supplemented with talks aimed at giving them liveliness and dynamism, and providing the opportunity to engage audiences and grow the scene.

Our audiences are also diverse, including young students, artists, art enthusiasts, galleries, partners, renowned patrons, institutional leaders and curators. We come with the aim of educating and interacting with the art and artists that we nurture and represent. Over the years, the gallery has become a true center of discovery. Through the expert guidance of our teams and initiatives such as Art Salon, we have succeeded in creating a community of like-minded individuals, both young and old, who share a common passion for collecting art.

What are the ongoing preparations for Art Dubai 2024, and how did last year’s edition affect the preparation process for this year’s edition?

Benedetta Ghione: We watch and listen to the latest developments, not only to spot trends but also to predict them. Over the years, the fair has taken on an institutional role, filling gaps within the ecosystem because if we don’t, no one else will.

Education gets a central focus for us. For example, through initiatives such as the A.R.M. Group’s Children’s Programme. Holding, the largest arts education program that reaches more than 100 schools across the Emirates, or the professional development and training program “Camps Art Dubai”, through which we aim to nurture future generations of artists and creative thinkers.

Collaboration with key global partners is also an integral part of the exhibition strategy. Not only do we create opportunities for artists, we also ensure they get the support and representation they deserve. Whether it is through Julius Baer, ​​which supports the installation work of the artist Krista Kim, or “Clinique La Prairie” commissioning the Syrian artist Sarah Naim, or Piaget, which collaborates with the Saudi fashion designer Razan Al-Azouni for her installation artwork from fabric, and an Emirati artist is working on making a new watch from. Set to be unveiled during the exhibition, our partnerships aim to empower and give back to the cultural community.

Collaboration with key global partners is also an integral part of the exhibition strategy.

Benedetta Ghione

Over the years, we have established a strong foundation and are currently focused on the long-term growth and development of the art scene. Continuously testing, experimenting and building on ideas is a core component of our growth strategy.

How has the art scene in the Middle East developed in recent years, and how has Art Dubai played an effective role in this development?

Benedetta Ghione: The region’s art scene is experiencing significant growth and development, with an increasing number of artists and galleries in Dubai. Art Dubai played an effective role in this development, which sees Dubai as a rising global center for culture and arts.

The gallery has always been a commercial hub and magnet for art and the arts, around which new art institutions and galleries have sprung up in Dubai, Sharjah and across the Emirates, each offering new perspectives on modern and contemporary art. It has been truly inspiring to watch our artists grow in their careers and markets, both locally and internationally. Dubai has been successful in attracting opportunities post-pandemic, with a rise in the number of high-net-worth individuals and art enthusiasts moving to settle here.

At Art Dubai Group, our mission goes beyond just organizing an exhibition. We oversee more than 30 initiatives, including Dubai Design Week, the Middle East’s premier design platform, Downtown Design, the region’s premier showcase for high-quality design and original creativity, and Prototype in Humanity, the world’s largest gathering of academics who address. Social and environmental challenges, in addition to other initiatives. Together, these initiatives play a critical role in nurturing talent, creating opportunities and building capacity within the creative industries on a global scale.

In your opinion, what makes Art Dubai one of the most prominent international art fairs?

Benedetta Ghione: The world is gradually changing, and we believe that Dubai stands at a crossroads between these changes. Art Dubai reflects the city’s distinctive identity and rich cultures by supporting art from various regions including Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. What sets us apart is our commitment to presenting the most important but often overlooked diverse viewpoints. More than 65% of our displays come from the Global South, a stark contrast to the only 5% we typically see at other international exhibitions.

What sets us apart is our commitment to presenting the most important but often overlooked diverse viewpoints.

Benedetta Ghione
How does Art Dubai plan to expand further in the future?

Benedetta Ghione: The exhibition is a lively place for business on an ongoing basis, however we are proud of the level we have achieved. The artistic scene is developing rapidly, and our primary role will remain in directing the paths and setting the road map for growth in this region. An example of our ability to adapt is the launch of Art Dubai Digital in 2022, in clear response to the opportunities and challenges posed by the pandemic. Our goal was to move beyond the “momentum” of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and instead focus on curating meaningful conversations about digital artists. As a result, Art Dubai became the first major international fair And the only one with a digital section dedicated to digital artwork.

This year, we are excited to show our development on this basis and bring together 24 exhibitions on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, reproductive art and immersive installations in a section curated by digital art experts Alfredo Cramerotti and Oronda Scalera. For the first time, the exhibition will also host a digital summit bringing together leading local and international experts, to support and shape the continued development of Dubai’s digital art ecosystem.

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