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Art Overtakes Dubai

Art Dubai, largest and most international edition to date welcomed 92 participating galleries from 40 countries and featured the work of more than 500 artists. With a combined value in excess of US$46m, galleries reported

Art Dubai, largest and most international edition to date welcomed 92 participating galleries from 40 countries and featured the work of more than 500 artists. With a combined value in excess of US$46m, galleries reported healthy sales to local, regional and international collectors and institutions from the moment the buzzing collectors’ preview opened on March 17, and throughout the week.

Over the course of four public days of the fair (March 18-21, 2015), Art Dubai attracted over 25,000 guests ranging from the world’s leading curators to UAE-based enthusiasts.

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The winner of the seventh Abraaj Group Art Prize, Yto Barrada, exhibited her specially commissioned work alongside shortlisted artists, Mounira Al Solh, Setareh Shahbazi and Sarnath Bannerjee in a dedicated exhibition, ‘Before History’, guest-curated by Omar Kholeif.

The Global Art Forum, themed around technologies and their impact on the world of art and culture, attracted capacity audiences throughout its sessions both in Kuwait and Dubai. Featuring over fifty high-profile speakers from the region and around the world, the Forum firmly reinforced its position as the regional hub for discussion and discovery.

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Audiences interacted with new site-specific works and performances from eleven commissioned artists and collectives, part of the dynamic Art Dubai Projects programme. For the first time, the fair’s not-for-profit programme included the creation of major site-specific works off-site – at Alserkal Avenue and other sites, including the Al Khail Road and in the Omani mountains.

The Campus Art Dubai Core class of 2014-15 held its graduation at the fair. A ‘Saturday art school’ for UAE-based artists, writers and curators, Campus Art Dubai is a partnership with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and is supported by Dubai Design District (d3). The class also programmed this year’s Art Dubai Radio, with a rich week-long programme of interviews, sound projects, music and more, which will now play out internationally through dedicated podcasts.

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For the youngest creatives, The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program, held in partnership with The Cultural Office, featured workshops and discovery tours led by commissioned artist Nicolas Paris, working with 15 UAE-based artists. For the first time, the artists worked with Dubai-based schools in the run-up to the fair, and ran special workshops for teachers at the fair.

Art Dubai 2015 also saw the launch of ‘Fada’aat’, a special exhibition presented by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, exploring the spaces created in the intersection between culture, history and innovation. As a prelude to the forthcoming Metro Museums, the innovative, unique exhibition featured thematic spaces curated by medium and theme, including Islamic manuscripts and coins, maritime heritage, literature, photography and a live artist’s studio. The exhibition was inaugurated by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the opening of the fair.

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