Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum talks programme commissioner Shumon Basar will lead a select group of participants as they converge in London to discuss the arts and culture scene of the UAE from the perspectives of the past, present and future. In its characteristic combination of original thinking and contemporary topics, the forum gathers diverse individuals who each lend a unique and complementary take on the theme at hand. On 23 July, speakers HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State in the UAE; Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director at Serpentine Galleries; Ahmed and Rashid Bin Shabib, cultural advisors; Butheina H Kazim, co-founder of Cinema Akil; Munira Al Sayegh, curator; and Dr Noah Raford, COO and Futurist-in-Chief of the Dubai Future Foundation, will discuss the hyper-growth of Dubai’s cultural landscape from their backgrounds in art, architecture, cinema and futurism.
Numerous Emirati initiatives over the last few years, such as at Warehouse421, Abu Dhabi; or previous UAE pavilions at the Venice Biennale, among others, have looked inwards at its history as a launch point for how it has grown, and where it may go next. “It's to do with the accelerated sense of time there,” explains Basar. “1971—when the union was formed—may just be 47 years ago, but, in that time, there have been sediments of development, from pre- to post-industrial. I also think that such accelerated change may have not paid attention to memory at the time. But it's a fundamental human wish to understand how we got to where we are and how that will affect where we go next.”
Full programme details have been revealed, and following Basar’s introduction, Nusseibeh and Obrist will discuss the origins and evolution between the Arab 20th and 21st centuries; and the Bin Shabib brothers will present unrealised architectural projects and the resulting untapped alternative histories and futures. Kazim and Al Sayegh will hold a conversation covering the emergence of regional cinephilia at a time when film culture is reinventing itself; and Dr Raford will explore a new approach to communally creating the future.
Noting that Global Art Forum is a unique space of thinking across disciplines and geographies, Basar adds that it serves to “take the cultural temperature of the current moment, in a stimulating and surprising way.” The London event will play into the forum’s goals by reflecting the context of this special edition. “We thought it would be interesting for a London audience to learn about what's contemporary thinking and initiatives in the UAE cultural sphere,” says Basar. While there are no concrete aims to formulate—or reformulate—pre-conceived perceptions of the nation, Basar notes, “The power of discursive events is every audience member will make their own connections to things they're already interested in and things they hear about for the first time.”
Global Art Forum: UAE Past, Present and Future will run 23 July 2018, 6.30-9pm at the Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Royal Academy of Arts, London. The full programme will resume at Art Dubai, running 20-23 March 2019 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Artdubai.ae