Dubai Art 2012

Your guide to one of the biggest art fairs in the region


Art Dubai is back with a bang! The sixth edition of this exciting contemporary art fair is taking place from March 21 to 24 at Madinat Jumeirah – and you can expect no less than 75 galleries from 32 countries to feature their work. Not only is such an event a fantastic opportunity to discover art from across the globe and unique initiatives, it’s also a great forum to expose children to art and nurture their creativity. From programmes aimed at supporting less fortunate kids to installations that will stimulate your children’s imagination (and yours!) we round up the highlights of Art Dubai 2012.

Once upon a time…With START
(March 21)

This Dubai-based, non-profit organisation helps less privileged children and special-needs kids in the UAE and across the region to achieve their dreams through art workshops. This year, START is taking us back to our favourite childhood bedtime stories through its ‘Once upon a time’-themed gala dinner at Mina A’Salam. The dinner, which celebrates creatively and academically outstanding individuals, will award one UAE-based workshop student a one-year scholarship where he’ll get the chance to develop his passion for art through a mentoring programme and internships. A second student will leave with the ‘2012 Jordan START Scholarship’, which includes an all-expenses paid five-year placement on the scholarship programme. Tanaz Dizadji, Director of START says: ‘As we know, START’s scholarships are life-changing for children from the programme. We are proud of the success of START in reaching out to vulnerable children in the Middle East and giving them not only a consistent source of education, but an opportunity to be creative and passionate about learning new skills, in sometimes the most desperate of cases.’

But that’s not all. You can also do your bit to support the arts and less fortunate kids by helping to raise funds for the START workshops through a charity auction held in partnership with world-renowned auctioneers Christie’s. Who knows, you might even walk away with a weekend cruise on a 100ft yacht or a Van Cleef & Arpels pair of vintage Alhambra pink-gold, diamond-paved earrings!
Visit for more info.

Performance Night
(March 22)

One for the whole family, Fort Island at Madinat Jumeirah is playing host to this special event, in partnership with not-for-profit art space, Traffic. Performance Night will bring together artists, poets, musicians, academics, curators and collectors for an evening of performances. Most participants are based in the UAE and include Hala Al Ali, Isak Berbic, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Anahita Razmi, Lantian Xie and WolfPakistan, a self-styled, ‘native-born Emirati Indian Slash Mexican dance rap group’.
Timings TBC.

Morocco to the moon
(March 21-24)

‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘An astronaut!’ Well, with Morocco to the Moon, you can give your child his first taste of outer space. The fruit of a collaboration between renowned Tangiers-based artist Yto Barrada and Marrakech-based designers Zid Zid Kids, the 1950s sci-fi-inspired lounge takes the whole family through a whimsical trip to outer space and beyond – expect astronauts, aliens, ray guns and space robots at every turn! The space is also a unique exploration ground for kids – think bespoke furniture, innovative play-objects, interactive features, and film projections. Workshops are also on the schedule, such as Zid Zid Kids’ ‘Colour Me Robot Cushions and Masks’.

Site-specific installations
(March 21-24)

For those who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on ground, ‘Pseudophobia’, the brainchild of Jogjakarta-based artist Setu Legi, is a fortress-like-structure made from sandbags, textiles, pins and mirrors. Meanwhile, there’s also plenty to keep parents and older children entertained. Part of Art Dubai’s special commissions programme, ‘Prototype for a Dubai Commune’ by curator Rami Farook and ‘Oil and Water’, a partnership between American artist James Clar and Dubai-based Indian artist UBIK, both use architectural models of Dubai landmarks as a point of creative departure. The sixth edition of Art Dubai also sees the launch of ‘The Hatch’, an ordinary stairwell given new life as a screening room. This intimate, innovative space features video programmes curated by Bidoun and Radio for Example, among others, plus artists’ talks and presentations.

Art week education programme

(March 15-25)
If your children are slightly older and art is what makes them tick, then this umbrella initiative offers an enriching opportunity. Through talks, speeches and workshops, students and graduates can get involved in the world of contemporary art and design and gain insight into the industry by interacting with gallery owners, educators, artists and interns.

Antonia Carver, Art Dubai’s Fair Director, says: ‘We are delighted to be growing Art Dubai’s educational programme. These programmes have been designed to offer students, graduates and arts enthusiasts a chance to actively participate in successful international fairs, immerse themselves in the local cultural community and engage with artists, curators, filmmakers and other visionaries.’

During the fair students will also have the opportunity to work with galleries, media partners, artists, and the Art Dubai team. Former Art Dubai intern Madiha Qadir Sheikh, from the College of Fine Arts, Sharjah, says: ‘I have interned with Art Dubai twice already. It’s a great experience to get exposed to the art world, gain valuable knowledge, meet people and make contacts for the future.’

For students and teens that want to intern in the lead up to, or during Art Week 2012, email

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