Established to explore cultural production in the Gulf, this year’s symposium, entitled Big Spaces, Small Spaces: Urban, Architectural and Artistic Strategies for City-Based Cultural Districts, has a specific focus. ‘Big spaces’ considers museums and ‘small spaces’ and includes marginal or industrial sites before delving into how artists interact within them.
The remit of the two-day event states that the respective art scenes within the broader Gulf area have progressively attracted more artists, collectors and patrons due to its escalated energy. As such, museums, galleries and studios have a deepening impact on the urban landscape, and “the role of public art in enriching the lives of citizens figures prominently in an ongoing discussion among artists, urban planners, and officials in Gulf cities.”
Beginning with a panel discussion on 8 May at noon at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW), speakers include Vilma Jurkute, Alskeral Avenue director; Yasser Elsheshtawy, scholar and curator of the UAE Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale; and Noura Al Sayeh, head of architectural affairs at Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, will be joined by Meitha Saeed Al Mazrooei, editor of WTD Magazine; and Adrian Ellis, chair of Global Cultural Districts Network. The discussion will examine the growth of arts districts in Gulf cities, the involvement of the government and private sector in their development through specific case studies and international comparisons, and “consider urban and architectural strategies for integration of these districts within the city.”
A second main event will be held at 4pm on 9 May at the Phillips Collection in DC, where AGSIW and Alserkal Avenue have collaborated on a programme of performances. The participating artists include Emirati Farah Al Qasimi; Saudi Ahaad Al-Amoudi; Dubai-based Vikram Divecha; New York-based Ahmady Arts curator Leeza Ahmady; and Dubai-based Greek artist and architect Kosmas Nikolaou.