Saturday, March 11, 2017

Abu Dhabi Art

the graffiti installations all across Abu Dhabi. This one was at Yas Marina

For art lovers the best time to visit Abu Dhabi is in November during Abu Dhabi Art. This has been a 4-day event filled with exhibitions, performances, lectures, discussions, music, book launches and workshops. The main event is an art fair at the Manarat Museum on Saadiyat Island, bringing to Abu Dhabi world's top galleries and also focusing on galleries in the local region. Galleries that were from the UAE were Ayyam Gallery, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, Custot Gallery, Elmarsa, Hunar Gallery, Lawrie Shabibi, Leila Heller Gallery, Salwa Zeidan Gallery, The Third Line Gallery. The event has grown every year and this year especially, I felt it branched out and more locations in the city were involved. Also, there were events taking place several days leading up to the opening of Abu Dhabi Art.

If you have some serious cash to burn, get there early as the best stuff goes already before the event opens to the public. I was fortunate enough to go to the opening in 2016 and overheard many deals being negotiated.

For people not interested in buying, there is still plenty to do. First, and foremost, admire the art. There are gallery tours for adults and for kids. The kids ones are more fun :). You can also tour the galleries on your own. Note that kids below a certain age (I think it was 10?) are not allowed in the gallery areas outside the kids' tours.

For all the years I have visited Abu Dhabi art, the event has been complimentary. That includes also all performances and everything else that goes on during the event. Here are a few photos of the 2016 galleries:

Gu Dexin 'bananas'

This I would have wanted to take home

Other events: One other event I went to see, well, more accurately, experience, was ' Five Attempts to Speak with an Alien', which was a boat trip performance by Anna Rispoli. This was fantastic! I was initially put off by the name of the performance but I am so glad I decided to sign up. This was a wierd, eye opening experience which captured and awoke all the senses. I started to see Abu Dhabi differently - to see the buildings, the lights, the structures and feel and hear the sounds. I am keeping my eyes open for anything else by Anna Rispoli anywhere in the world.

I am trying to soak up any opportunity to understand more about the local culture here in the region and also went to listen to 'GCC Museums in Conversation' where museum representatives from the GCC (Gulf Coast Countries) shared their experiences about establishing and running museums in the region.

I also went to listen to 'A curatorial vision' - a panel discussion with Alexandra Munroe, Fabrice Bousteau, Reem Fadda, Tarek Abou El Fetouh and it was fabulous to hear more about the thinking behind the gallery exhibits. 

My kids loved staying in the kids area and participating in the dedicated workshops. For the younger ones they were free to paint, sculpt and play and the older ones got to explore the themes of the Abu Dhabi Art and create their own masterpieces. 

 At NYU Abu Dhabi, whose campus is also on Saadiyat Island, there was a performance-installation by Lars Jan "Holoscenes". This was mesmerising. Learn more about it here.

As a photography lover, I also went to a photowalk organised in the galleries. This basically meant that we were able to enter the galleries in the morning and take pictures. Loved it! Check out dubai Instagrammers for more info and their photo walks. 

Wang Dongling, a calligarphy artist, did a live performance the night before and the art piece is here being prepped for display.

This is a fantastic event and I highly recommend to visit Abu Dhabi during Abu Dhabi Art! Just beware that you might want to spend more time at Abu Dhabi Art than seeing the sights or on the beach. And...register ahead for the workshops, lectures and performances. They were complimentary but spaces fill up quickly. 

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