DUBAI: The Middle East’s largest art fair unveiled its 11th edition on Wednesday, with a twist that could surprise even the most ardent Art Dubai fans.
For the first time in its history, the Art Dubai Commissions series — dynamic, site-specific works set in the grounds of the fair — will exclusively feature performance-based art.
“We’ve got a lot of new things which we are initiating this year; among them for the first time we are committing our Commissions to performance only, so as you are walking through our halls, your art-fair experience will be enhanced by the punctuation of a performance,” Myrna Ayad, the fair director, told Arab News.
A select group of international artists was asked to create unique pieces of work for the fair, including Manuel Pelmuş, Eglé Budvytytė, Iván Argote, Pauline Bastard and Lana Fahmi.
The artists worked closely with curator Yasmina Reggad to create a diverse showcase of performance art.
Fahmi created a piece called “What Modernity?” which focuses on the shift from traditional to modern dancing in the Arab world.
“Dancers combine all forms of art — they act, they sing, they paint with their bodies and they sculpt,” Fahmi told Arab News, adding that she is “amazed by the body’s abilities and powers… the shapes, sounds and stories you can tell.”
But where does it all start? Fahmi says every performance artist has their own unique way of working.
“Each choreographer has his or her own way of creating a dance piece, it can be music, imagery, an idea or even silence that can initiate movement.”
Curator Yasmina Reggad previously told audiences that “performance art is already part of the visual arts landscape in the MENA region (but) in the case of the UAE, performance art is not an art form that is regularly offered to local audiences,” perhaps explaining why Art Dubai chose to focus on the art form so heavily this year.
Art Dubai is dubbed the most global art fair in the world, according to organizers, with the 2017 edition hosting 93 galleries from 43 countries showcasing the works of more than 500 artists.
The fair is open to the public and set to run between March 15-18.