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Art fair at the luxury resort: Art Dubai with a new digital art section – culture

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Screens, brightly flickering LED lights, futuristic pop hybrids bathed in psychedelic colors from the world of the Metaverse. In the digital section of the 15th edition of Art Dubai, the luminous letters of Bybit, the Singapore cryptocurrency platform and one of the sponsors, merge with those of the slogan that this fair communicates as a mantra: “Level up”. Go to the next level!

Here, in the world of virtual experiments, video art and augmented reality (AR), NFTs and blockchain technology, 17 of the more than 100 participating galleries from 44 countries present how artists combine the analog and digital present and the doomed future.

creative computer records

For example DAO fingerprints. The NFT curatorial team collects works by artists who work with blockchain technology as a medium. “We connect artists and programmers to make computer protocols creative,” explains Sam Spike, art director. Our latest project is “Capital Semilla”. He points to a plant placed in the center of an aluminum sculptural object. The table top is printed with a color-coded grid pattern, as are the seats around it. “

Dypsis lutescens, the golden palm from the Madagascar region, is surrounded by sensors that translate soil moisture and temperature of the plant and its surroundings into data at 15-minute intervals. “If the data shown is in palm-positive territory, anyone who wants to protect it can buy a ‘Growth Certificate’ NFT for 0.15 ETH, which is around $2,600.” There is a maximum of 1600 NFT available for purchase.

If the data indicates an unfavorable situation for the plant, the number of NFTs is reduced by one. The rules of the game, which Sam Spike further differentiates, sound complicated, but the idea behind them is excellent. “terra0”, the name of the prototype, which has already been presented at the Venice and Lyon Biennials, wants to generate technologically advanced ecosystems that make nature’s capital measurable and thus turn it into a self-sufficient producer. Sam Spike cites another example: “An NFT that self-immolates if the Earth’s average temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius above average.”

Business as sensual pleasures

As a think tank, the digital section is very stimulating and entertaining in a playful way. The other three sections of Art Dubai, with galleries specializing in contemporary and modern art, are divided into three other rooms in Madinat Jumeirah, the largest and most luxurious resort in the emirate, which has four hotels, a private beach, villas, summer houses , boutiques, restaurants, bars and a water park. The area with its spacious terrace in front of the halls offers the opening guests on the day of the preview the ideal conditions to enjoy art and relaxation, business and sensual pleasures in the sun, concentration and communication.

Founded 15 years ago as a small boutique fair under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Art Dubai has since become a fixture on the global art calendar. .

As the most important trade fair in the region along with the Abu Dhabi Art Fair in November, it focuses on markets in the Global South, including the Middle East, Iran, India, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan, West Africa, Latin America and Caribbean. Pablo del Val, the artistic director, describes it as “a new center beyond the western market. We bring together artistic positions that are still underrepresented in international private and museum collections.”

Contemporary art trade center

In fact, about a third of the participating galleries are from Western countries, two-thirds from the South, with more than a dozen dealers with locations in both hemispheres. One of them is Parisian global player Emmanuel Perrotin, who will open a new location in Dubai in the fall after Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York. “Dubai is becoming an increasingly important center of the contemporary art market.”

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German and Austrian gallery owners who came from Munich, Berlin, Mainz, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Vienna, Walter Storms and Heldenreizer Contemporary, Kornfeld and Kristin Hjellegjerde, Dorothea van der Koelen, Anna Laudel, Andrée Sfeir-Semler and Ursula Krinzinger, also confirm this evaluation and report on the first sales.

Sfeir-Semler, born in Beirut and who has long represented important artists from the Arab region such as Walid Raad, Aref El Rayess and Etel Adnan, has sold all the works of the painter, who died at the end of last year. , with prices in the six-figure range; A beautiful tapestry is also available. The Sfeir-Semler stand is part of the Modern section curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the two new directors of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

[Bis 13. März, www.artdubai.ae]

One of the artists they have chosen for a solo presentation is the Indian painter Rabin Mondal, who is showing the DAG gallery based in Delhi, Mumbai and New York. The cycle of eight paintings addresses the destructive potential of the abuse of power and its devastating consequences ($3 million). Yes, the war in Ukraine is also a main topic of conversation at Art Dubai, because it threatens and destroys artists, art and culture on a massive scale.

Natia Bukia, co-founder of the Georgian Artbeat gallery in Tblisi, dressed in Ukrainian colors for the VIP opening and spread her flag over the work table. “We’re here to do business, but it’s definitely not business as usual,” she says, summing up the mood of the gallery owners. Dealers like Ead Samawi of Dubai’s Ayyam Gallery and many others display artists’ works as clear political statements. At this time it is more important than ever to defend the humanitarian messages of art on all possible platforms.

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