Art Dubai’s Bawwaba is gateway into minds of top Global South creatives

Art Dubai’s Bawwaba is gateway into minds of top Global South creatives
Wardha Shabbir, I Have Seen An Ocean, 2021. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 March 2022
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Art Dubai’s Bawwaba is gateway into minds of top Global South creatives

Art Dubai’s Bawwaba is gateway into minds of top Global South creatives
  • Curator Nancy Adajania chose artists testing ‘global templates of contemporary art’
  • Creators include Mexico’s Rodrigo Hernandez, Nigeria’s Tonia Nneji and India’s Ranbir Kaleka

DUBAI: Art Dubai kicks off its 2022 edition on March 11 with its Bawwaba gallery, meaning “gateway” in Arabic, that provides a route into the creative processes of some of the Global South’s most innovative artists.

Speaking to Arab News recently, the curator of this gallery section, Nancy Adajania, said that the artists exhibiting were from countries including Chile, Peru, India and Mexico.




Tonia Nneji, A gathering of the broken-hearted, 2022. (Supplied)

Adajania highlighted several artists’ work including Mexico’s Rodrigo Hernandez’s “Night Round,” Nigeria’s Tonia Nneji’s paintings, and India’s Ranbir Kaleka’s video installation.

“Bawwaba’s viewers will play witness to an entanglement of various subjectivities,” Adajania told Arab News. “By entanglement, I mean a richly layered form of being and making, situated in the in-between spaces between cultures and epistemologies, where multiple histories, ideas and imaginaries intersect.”




México City, México, 1983, Night Round (Tiger), 2021. (Supplied)

The first edition of Bawwaba was launched in 2019. The name was chosen because it connotes a gateway between the recognized art worlds of the west and those of the lesser known in the Global South.

Adajania said she chose artists who “do not simply follow the global templates of contemporary art.”

“Artists who do not simply pursue an art illustrative of political reality or commit themselves to a dry conceptualism,” she explained.




Ranbir Kaleka, The Unremarkable Life of Man with Tiffin, 2019. (Supplied)

“Rather, I was drawn to artists who foreground their aesthetic and political preoccupations through resources and practices specific to their location — for instance, by collaborating with adroit craft practitioners or referencing festive customs or ritual systems, attuning these to a nuanced awareness of the present’s historic urgencies,” she added.

Adajania also discussed how the Middle East’s art scene has shown considerable development over the years.

“Dubai has made huge efforts to engage communities in cultural events like Art Dubai and Expo 2020, and initiatives such as (the) Jameel Arts Centre and the Museum of the Future,” she said. “I think that the platform has been well-formed and will only get stronger and expand more as we move forward.”

The curator added that the local art scene provides a fertile space for further exploration.