The announcement was made by Director Antonia Carver, formerly director of Art Dubai, who said the expansion will elevate Art Jameel to “an international foundation with a home of its own and perhaps in the future, multiple homes.”
The construction of the Jameel Arts Centre, a 10,000 square metre, non-profit multi-disciplinary space designed by Serie Architects, is already underway and it is set to open in Winter 2018. It will focus on the creation, promotion and display of art from across the Middle East and beyond with plans including artist residences, workshops and travelling exhibitions. Designed as a series of boxes linked by a colonnade, it will include 1,000 square meters of exhibition space, to show works from the Jameel Art Collection, as well as solo and group shows regional and international. But they also want to engender a sense of community and promote artistic development and education, so alongside this an open-access research centre and library, events spaces including a roof terrace for film screenings, an outdoor sculpture area, and a café, restaurant and bookshop. Landscape architect Anouk Vogel has also designed a series of courtyards to punctuate the building, allowing natural light in. The Curatorial Council is still under development, but so far includes Jessica Morgan, director, Dia Art Foundation, New York, and the curator and writer Murtaza Vali, based between Sharjah and New York.
Rendering of the entrance to Jameel Arts Centre Dubai. Courtesy of Serie.
However, although Art Jameel will now have its own bricks and mortar home, Carver stressed that “collaboration will remain central to everything we do” hence the partnership with The Met in New York. This takes the form of an acquisitions fund, as part of the organisation’s aim to raise the profile of contemporary Middle Eastern artists worldwide.
The Art Jameel Fund will both aid acquisitions and exhibitions global programming globally, alongside funding the Arabic translation of art texts to aid education on the art history of the region. The Met has already made some acquisitions; two works by Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun, one video piece from 2010 and six photographs from the Domestic Tourism I (2005) series. However, exact details about the size of the fund and its acquisitions focus are, for the moment, vague.
“Art Jameel’s support allows the museum to put the most exciting contemporary practices and influential modern works from across the region in conversation with its rich collections and diverse audiences” said Clare Davies, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She added that currently the Met’s collection of work from the region is lacking, and this partnership contributes to a wider initiative to grow the museum’s collection within non-western fields, working alongside the Modern and Contemporary Latin American and South Asian departments. Alongside increasing the Met’s own collection of Middle Eastern art, Davies said they also hope to promote dialogue with the region through this new partnership although neither she nor Carter would comment on whether Met works will travel to the new Jameel Arts Centre.
Rendering of the interior courtyards at the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai. Courtesy of Serie.
Fady Mohammed Jameel, the founder and President of Art Jameel, said that this marked the next phase of development for the foundation, which would be strengthening its programmes in Saudi Arabia, across the Arab world and internationally. “Likewise,” he added, “establishing a partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most-visited, encyclopedic museums in the world, allows us to further support contemporary artists from the region and share their work with a broad international public.”
A fuller article and interview will follow in the Summer 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Art.