Reviving Art & Culture in the Middle East – Global Art Forum

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Mathaf Museum of Modern Arab Art Doha Qatar aerial view
Aerial view of the Mathaf Museum of Modern Arab Art Doha Qatar. Photo-Mathaf

It would be prudent to say that  there has been a resurgence in interest and the promotion of Art  in the Middle East in the past decade. Multitude of Art Museums and Galleries have come up in countries like Dubai and Qatar, who have invested heavily in works of Art as well as setting up of new Art Galleries and Exhibitions. Dubai Art Museum, “Rain of Light” Louvre Museum, Abudhabi Gugghanheim Museum are some of the mega projects that are in the pipe line. Qatar’s Royal family has plans to make Doha, into an International Art Capital. It has played a major part in shaping the Art Scene in the region. The Royal family is believed to have invested more than $1 billion in buying famous works of Art. It is these developing cultural trends that has shaped the emergence of  Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum that will bring together artists from all walks of life, on March 2013 at Doha and Dubai.

Art Dubai’s renowned Global Art Forum, will see the congregation artists, musicians, music directors, strategists, writers and thinkers will start its 2013 events in Doha, Qatar. Featuring commissioned projects and research, as well as six days of live talks, the Forum starts at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (March 17 and 18, 2013), then continues at Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah (March 20-23, 2013).

Global Art Forum is presented by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), and is held in partnership with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (Qatar Museums Authority). Featured artists and contributors for 2013 include poet and author Mourid Barghouti (I Saw Ramallah, among other books); artist and former REM lead singer Michael Stipe and writer and artist Douglas Coupland.

of the Mathaf Museum of Modern Arab Art Doha, Qatar. Photo-Mathaf
Gallery inside the Mathaf Museum of Modern Arab Art in Doha, Qatar. Photo-Mathaf

The Global Art Forum was launched by Art Dubai at its inaugural fair in 2007. Bringing together protagonists from the art world and beyond for a week of innovative talk, debate and performance, the Forum has become the region’s leading annual platform for cultural discourse, with a particular emphasis on issues prevalent in the Middle East and Asia.

In 2013, the seventh iteration of the Global Art Forum is directed by Istanbul based writer/editor HG Masters, and commissioned by writer/curator Shumon Basar. Entitled ‘It Means This’, the forum explores the concept of ‘definitionism’: investigating the words, terms, clichés and misunderstandings that proliferate in the art world and beyond. The Forum attempts to (re)define words, phrases and ideas we think we know, and those we need to know, to navigate the 21st century.

Each session or element of the Forum will take on a keyword; some are terms we use every day – such as Heritage, Biography, Freezone, Score and Place (looking particularly at how the cities Lagos and Ramallah having been shaped by writers and artists). Other terms may be less familiar – including Academese, Advert Adverts, Drone Fiction, MENA (Middle East Nervous Anxiety), or Neologism. The eclectic line-up of Forum contributors are set to pick apart these terms through talks, debates, performances, TV clips, new publications, films, music, and so much more.

Global Art Forum_7 features over 40 contributors. New participants to the Forum include political scientist Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdullah; writer-editors Charles Arsene-Henry, Brian Kuan Wood (Editor, eflux journal) and Guy Mannes-Abbott (editor, In Ramallah, Running); artists Tarek Atoui, Manal Al Dowayan, Shuruq Harb, Hassan Khan, Anri Sala, Payam Sharifi, Ala Younis; writers Elif Batuman (contributor, New Yorker), Maryam Monalisa Gharavi (Editor-at-Large, The New Inquiry), Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (author of What if Latin America Ruled the World?); Lagos-based writer-editor Tolu Ogunlesi; writer/urbanist Keller Easterling (Professor, Yale University); curator-translator, and Dar Al-Ma’mun founder, Omar Berrada; curators Reem Fadda (Associate Curator, Middle Eastern Art, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, and curator, National Pavilion for the UAE at the Venice Biennial 2013), Koyo Kouoh (director, Raw Material Company, Dakar), Bisi Silva (director, CCA Lagos) and Tirdad Zolghadr (writer, based at Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College NY); New York-based anthropologist Uzma Z. Rizvi; composer and musician Andre Vida; and Doha-based analyst and commentator Tarik Yousef.

Returning speakers include curator Lara Khaldi (Director, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah); geostrategist and Director of Hybrid Reality Institute Parag Khanna; Turi Munthe, the founder of ‘citizen journalist’ newswire Demotix; Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects of the Serpentine Gallery, London, Hans-Ulrich Obrist; and the Beirut-based critic Kaelen Wilson-Goldie.

The Global Art Forum_7 includes a range of commissioned projects and publications, including a series of “advert breaks” by upcoming artists Lantian Xie and Abdullah Al Mutairi, among other projects and publications to be announced.

Forum visitors are also invited to a special lecture by architect Rem Koolhaas at Virginia Commonwealth University’s biannual art and design conference, Tasmeem Doha 2013 – Hybrid Making, on March 17 following the Global Art Forum sessions at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

Other discussions at Art Dubai include Terrace Talks, a series of high-level one-on-one conversations between key protagonists from the arts scenes of the Middle East and Asia, each year focusing on particular themes and developments.

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