Abu Dhabi Art’s fifth edition combines traditional and contemporary art with street performance and desert poetry to engage the whole city. Cultural tours of the city by bus and boat, a series of performance on Saadiyat Island, poetry evenings on the beach and a whole section dedicated to Emirati cultural and heritage aesthetics are just some of the new additions to Abu Dhabi Art this year.
The fair, now in its fifth edition, has put a heavy emphasis on performance with a new section called Durub Al Tawaya. Referring to the Emirati term tawaya, or points of respite where desert travellers could find underground water springs, the programme will bus visitors from Saadiyat Island to various locations around the city. The Egyptian artist Wael Shawky has been working with the curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh on a video piece about the Bedouin tradition of reciting poetry to their camels. Emirati poets Mohamed Al Mazroui and Aita Ben Masaaoud will be reading classical Arab and Nabati poems on the beaches of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche and traditional dhows will depart from Mina (port) functioning as mobile galleries.
The Manarat Al Saadiyat, the fair’s main venue, will house a temporary souk this year. Designed by Japanese architect Shegiru Ban, it will house projects and works by Emirati designers including furniture, product design, jewellery, textiles and handicrafts. The programme will also have a particular focus on architecture that is connected to the region, from the earliest inhabitants who adapted to climate and terrain using temporary and mobile structures, to present-day innovations.
This year’s fair will draw 50 leading modern, contemporary art and design galleries from around the world. Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has already announced a 91 per cent of galleries exhibiting under five sections: Modern and Contemporary, Design, Beyond, which is for large scale sculpture, video installation and performances, Bidaya featuring an emerging gallery and Signature, for emerging artists. Dubai-based gallery Lawrie Shabibi will be this year’s Bidaya Gallery, exhibiting works by gallery artists Nabil Nahas and Farghali Abdel Hafiz alongside Meekyoung Shin from Korea and Yudi Noor from Indonesia.
Arts, Talks and Sensations
The annual interactive element of the fair, Art, Talks & Sensations, will return with a programme of performance, screenings and poetry titled Dunes and Wavess. International artists including Chassol and Alexdrine Leclere and Julie Fruchon will present live performances, video screenings, poetic installations and “human architectures” created by performers in movement. Fabrice Bousteau, the French curator who oversees the programme, has also organised two parallel exhibitions for this year’s show: Small is Beautiful, featuring small-scale artworks from galleries participating in the Modern, Contemporary & Design sector and Artists’ Waves, an artist-led exhibition of work from within the galleries showing at the fair.
Rita Aoun-Abdo, the executive director of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s culture sector says that the 2013 edition of Abu Dhabi Art will provide further indication of the capital’s maturing art scene. “Not only will this programme meld art with the daily life, but it will take the diversity of Abu Dhabi Art’s international visitors, offering them an unforgettable perspective on the city.”
*Abu Dhabi Art runs from November 20-23 at Manarat Al Saadiyat