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Worth a thousand words. Abu Dhabi Art

Abu Dhabi Art returns to the capital this month for its 10th edition, promising a packed programme of engaging exhibitions, creative workshops, public talks and live performances. In recent years, the UAE capital has attracted the world’s attention to its thriving arts and culture scene, captivating both art lovers and artists alike. Thanks to the development of Saadiyat Cultural District, the last decade has borne witness to Abu Dhabi’s inspiring transformation into a notable art hub, welcoming talent from all across the globe to contribute to its ever-expanding cultural ecosystem.

Don’t miss out on these fair highlights…

» Bird Watching by Lawrence Abu Hamdan Live audio essays that take listeners on a dramatic journey to the prison of Saydnaya in Syria to explore the relationships between politics, human rights, testimonies and the truth

» Diver by Monira Al Qadiri A video installation showcasing an intense synchronised swimming routine choreographed to a traditional pearl-diving song

» Five Attempts to Speak to an Alien by Ana Rispoli A live show comprising five collective exercises to “speak to an alien”, where participants are invited to imagine the city from a different perspective and from an unusual distance

» Halqat Fann by Tarek Abou El Fetouh A series of closed-door meetings between students and established artists from the region

» Durub Al Tawaya by Tarek Abou El Fetouh A performance art programme that investigates the role of technology in the evolution of art, providing artists the inspiration to venture outside gallery walls and explore new horizons

» Talks Programme by art history professors Nada Shabout and Salwa Mikdadi A three-day programme highlighting local and global perspectives on new art marketing

While the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017 put the emirate on the map, the upcoming launch of Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is touted to cement this position even further. But that’s not where this chapter begins. In fact, it dates back a decade (even before the UAE’s love for all things art hit the spotlight) to when the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) launched the capital’s first-ever art show in 2009.

Attracting international crowds in increasing numbers year after year, Abu Dhabi Art Fair goes beyond the traditional notion of an art exhibition. The public event brings a diverse programme to the UAE capital every November with exhibitions, workshops, seminars and live performances taking place over the course of four bustling days. And with an inclusive and engaging concept, unlike other art shows of its ilk, Abu Dhabi Art has carved a niche for itself in the Middle Eastern artistic community, making it a must-visit for aficionados.

The 10th edition of Abu Dhabi Art Fair dovetails with the first anniversary of the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi, returning to Manarat Al Saadiyat from November 14 to 17 to offer a creatively crafted experience that captures the growing influence of the local, regional and international cultural landscape. With more than 40 galleries from around the world set to participate, showcasing ambitious installations and site-specific works, the exhibition will cater to an estimated audience of 20,000 visitors.

For the attending galleries, Abu Dhabi Art provides an excellent networking platform – a gateway to the art community in the region. HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, says: “Given its exceptional depth and the quality of its programming, Abu Dhabi Art adds impetus to our efforts to promote the emirate as a cultural hub that is uniquely centred between East and West. Once again, we present an event that breaks the traditional boundaries of a fair, contributing to the global cultural scene while at the same time presenting our national identity and artistic contribution.”

For artists, both established and emerging, the fair offers an invaluable opportunity to exhibit their work on a global stage, promising huge exposure to an international audience. As for those visiting, Abu Dhabi Art presents the perfect chance to soak up the abundance of artistic inspiration and tap into the city’s impressive cultural offering.

Among the many highlights of this year’s fair is the return of one of its main sections. The Focus sector sheds light on icons that have shaped the contemporary art stage and will be curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif. The Gateway sector also makes a comeback under a new title, Structures of Meaning | Architectures of Perception. This section explores visual art with installations that touch upon the built environment and languages, and will showcase some of the finest works by 15 international artists including Abdullah al Saadi, Abigail Reynolds, Imran Qureshi, Rachel Whiteread, Hajra Waheed and Lantian Xie.

In addition to these inspiring displays, other highlights come in the form of the Beyond section, which aims to make art more accessible to all by bringing it into the public arena. A series of large-scale installations, sculptures and site-specific commissions will be exhibited across historic locations in the capital for two months after the event, giving the public an opportunity to enjoy some of the most groundbreaking pieces from the fair. This year’s display will include works by talented young artists Ahmed Saeed Al Areef Al Dhaheri, Dhabiya Alrumaithi and Taqwa Alnaqbi.

With such a packed and varied itinerary, it is easy to see why Abu Dhabi Art Fair is one of the biggest events on the capital’s cultural calendar. And as the organisers prepare for yet another exciting season, the emirate paves the way forward, creating a greater impact with its increasingly global presence.

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