Gearing up for World Art Dubai 2016


A visitor viewing artwork by Daniela Ribeiro at the World Art Fair in Dubai, April 2015.

A visitor viewing artwork by Daniela Ribeiro at the World Art Fair in Dubai, April 2015.

Who said art is intimidating? Art is unaffordable? Art is for the elite?

A lot of the ads for World Art Dubai 2015 were a bunch of questions that challenged the daunting reputation of the art world, and it made complete sense when I saw their tagline:

“Inspiring lifestyle with accessible art.”

IMG_9665 (Copy)While I wouldn’t say it achieved that entirely, it did, at least, feel less exclusive and more accessible because it was open to the public and entrance was completely free of charge – something I unabashedly took advantage of by going, not once, but twice during its four-day run.

IMG_0739 (Copy)But, in retrospect, it is possible that multiple visits by people like me may have been what the organizers had hoped for; apart from having the exhibitions inside the halls of the Dubai World Trade Centre, different activities such as art history talks and photography workshops were scheduled on each day. There was more than enough reason to come back as often as possible.

The first time I went to this year’s art fair, the doors had just literally opened and the sheikh of Dubai and his entourage of bodyguards twice his height were walking around inside. They were the spectacle for the duration of their stay and the art was all but forgotten, but, thankfully, it appeared to be a courtesy call and they were gone in a matter of minutes.

Artist Christina Clodomir Makeda.

Artist Christina Clodomir Makeda.

Once free from the attention-drawing aura unique to royals and monarchs, my shutter-happy self was then able to walk around the fair with my camera.

Ever the cosmopolitan city, over 80 galleries and 100 artists who hailed from all over the world were present. Manned by either a gallery representative or the artists themselves, the booths were inviting, and those present were all open to chatting, and not always about their art—which is something that added to the accessibility and friendly atmosphere of the entire event as well.

Outside, a small theatre was constructed to give visitors the chance to view a curated playlist of shorts and documentaries.

IMG_0159 (Copy)Several whitewashed panels, including the outer walls of the theater served as the canvas for some 150 graffiti artists who were also from around the world. Most of them weren’t present on the first day, but two days later, when I dropped by again, there were several artists all in the middle of creating their masterpieces. It could’ve been their activity with spray paint and large markers, or it could’ve been that more people had heard that the fair was worth going to, but the throng of people I had to weave through had grown a noticeable amount by the third day as well.

Many people, myself included, raved about World Art Dubai 2015 for some time even after its conclusion, and the organizers have promptly responded to the call for an encore by already setting April 6 to 9, 2016 as the dates for round two. Applications to participate as a sponsor, artist, or gallery exhibitor are now being accepted—and if you find yourself in Dubai on those dates, it is worth it to include it in your itinerary.

(Photographs courtesy of Rowhe Rodriguez.)

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