Salma Shaheem’s Art Dubai Diary

From the 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennial to a private visit to Hassan Sharif’s studio Salma Shaheem’s diary brings to life Art Dubai 2019.

Opening of The Samdani Art Foundation

Reetu Sattar’s performance at the opening of the Samdani Art Foundation

We had an extremely strong start to the week thanks to the of opening of Fabric(ated) Fractures, a collaboration between Concrete in Alserkal Avenue and The Samdani Art Foundation. This inspirational group exhibition touched on subjects of great sensitivity such as civil war, and challenging the idea of nation and identity, with a geographical focus on Bangladesh, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

The Sharjah Biennal

Otobong Nkanga & Emeka Ogboh at the 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennal

Sharjah has reached darling status in the global art market. The audience at the opening of the 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennial was a testament to it’s success. We saw museum groups, curators, collectors and industry players from near and far, all gathered to feast their cultural senses. This edition of the Sharjah Biennal, Leaving The Echo Chamber, was particularly interesting because it is a collaboration between three curators; Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif and Claire Tancons. They chose to collaborate on how to bring to life this year’s theme of social displacement, political turmoil and the impact of monopolisation of news sources on society.

Hassan Sharif’s Studio

The late Hassan Sharif’s studio and home in Al Barsha, Dubai

Hassan Sharif was the UAE’s first conceptual artist. Through his work Sharif demolished all preconceptions of what an artist should be. Sharif’s works are often described as limitless, as he was unapologetically curious, and found the freedom to be so through his work as an artist.

After graduating from The Byam Shaw School of Art (Central Saint Martins) in 1984, Sharif’s practice extended to performance, and later in the 1980s he began working on his Objects – creating artworks from mundane everyday objects and “handing” it back to society in the form of ‘art’.

Visiting the late artist’s studio was certainly the highlight of my week, Hassan was such a talented and dedicated artist, truly the first of his kind in the UAE.

The Ishara Art Foundation

Shilpa Gupta, Map Tracing 6 UAE, 2019 at Ishara Art Foundation

The newest addition to our eco-system is The Ishara Art Foundation housed in a stunning new space at Alserkal Avenue. The inaugural exhibition at Ishara, Altered Inheritances: Home is a Foreign Place focuses on two very prominent female artists from South Asia; Shilpa Gupta and Zarina. Through their work the artists discuss the notion of identity, belonging and the adaptation of a third culture

Over the last few years we have seen a steady increase in non-commercial spaces opening in Dubai. One of the most significant of these is the Jameel Arts Centre, that opened it’s doors in November 2018. During Art Week Dubai, Jameel Arts Centre played host to an incredible study of the Minaret of Anah in Iraq. A historical and archaeological narrative about how one monument constantly met with travesty. The Minaret was dismantled and relocated from the Island of Anah to the mainland, when Saddam Hussein decided to build a dam in the 1980’s. In the tumultuous years that followed, it was a target of terrorism in 2006, and it was later rebuilt in 2012 by a team of local archaeologists only to be destructed by Isis again in 2016.

The burning question is, if the Minaret is rebuilt from it’s rubbles, will it be a replica?

A study of the Minaret of Anah at the Jameel Arts Centre

Cover image © The Studio, Dubai
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