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“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery
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 Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall
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  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

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E-03++ Fall/Winter 2021-22
DXB 
Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?
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Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022
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Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022
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 Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421
AAN The Labor of Art and the Art of Labor: Christopher Benton on His First Exhibition in Al Ain
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance
DXB
Engage101 Presents “Connected, Collected” at Sotheby’s Dubai

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  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

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DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks 
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

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  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

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SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer
AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421 
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye
DXB Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism
BEY GAD Map: Arts & Culture Relief for Beirut

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Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?


By Alessia Piacitelli and Amy Qian

Published on March 14, 2022

        Located in the splendid Madinat Jumeirah, this year’s 15th edition of Art Dubai presented over 100 art galleries from more than 40 countries, from Contemporary, Modern, Bawwaba, and Digital sections. With full-day programs of Global Art Forum talks, guided tours, and with after-parties going late into the evening, the art fair was not only an avenue for Dubai’s public to enjoy seeing regional and international galleries, but also an opportunity for local practitioners to meet their counterparts from the region, to socialize and exchange ideas.

1. Maitha Abdulla presentation at Tabari Art Space booth, Art Dubai 2022. Installation view. Photo courtesy of Tabari Art Space.
2. Souad Abdelrassoul, Waiting, 2021. Acrylics on canvas. 200 x 235 cm. Image courtesy Circle Art Gallery.
3. Dickens Otieno, Celestials, 2022. Shredded aluminium cans woven on steel mesh249 x 168 cm
98 1/8 x 66 1/8 in. Image courtesy Circle Art Gallery.


Dubai’s art market emerged from a pandemic with a fresh revolutionary section: Art Dubai Digital. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) were undoubtedly the highlight of this year’s Art Dubai. Inaugurated this year, Art Dubai Digital was a section dedicated solely to digital art. Following green signs, visitors were invited to enter into a different part of the Madinat Jumeirah complex, outside of the main halls, and into an underground space lit by neon lights, screens, and symbols of our post-digital age. With seventeen participating galleries, including some from Seoul, Istanbul, London, a wide variety of digital works were on view, displayed mostly on flat screens. For some of the galleries, Art Dubai Digital represented the first time they participated at a modern and contemporary art fair, in the traditional sense of the word.

3. Art Dubai Digital 2022. Photo courtesy of Alessia Piacitelli and Amy Qian.


In the current digital era, Art Dubai Digital showcased ways in which new artistic models can adapt to the usual art fair structure. The section looked like a parallel world, a variation of what an art space can become if it did not strictly follow white cube form. Exhibited on LCD screens, digital artworks looked like living paintings. Black walls, neon lights, canvas screens, and Ethereum wallets made up the new reality of this space.



In the current digital era, Art Dubai Digital showcased ways in which new artistic models can adapt to the usual art fair structure.



4. Art Dubai Digital 2022. Photo courtesy of Alessia Piacitelli and Amy Qian.


“There is a lot of interest, a lot of questions – which is fine,” said David Johnson from Institut, a London-based art organization with over five decades of experience in all fields of contemporary art. “We want to make sure that traditional collectors include digital art in their collections,” Johnson continued. Their target audience was not necessarily made up of young Gen Z collectors. Institut proposed artworks by Tyler Hobbs and Drift x Don Diablo x Sil, which range from ETH 90 (USD 180,000) to ETH 285 (USD 750,000), attracting clients usually in their late 30s and 40s with “enough liquidity.”


Black walls, neon lights, canvas screens, and Ethereum wallets made up the new reality of this space.



Interestingly, many gallerists of Art Dubai Digital were Gen Z representatives with backgrounds in finance, technology, design, and marketing. Ready to educate audiences about NFTs, blockchain, and Ethereum, the general feeling in this section was one of accessibility and pedagogy surrounding the novelty of this technology and the potential it presents to current and future art collectors. Gallerists’ patience and willingness to share their knowledge was necessary to open the world of nonfungible tokens to the general public as well as serious art connoisseurs with years of experience in the art world.

“We, as a gallery and as an organisation, are comprised of technologists, and thus have expertise in displaying NFTs”, shared Keith Casadei from Bright Moments, a digital globally-based DAO platform. With communities in Venice, New York, and Berlin, BrightMoments hosts supporters and a group of Crypto Citizens who attend in-person events and vote for the next city where community events are held. As a complete Web3 initiative, Crypto Citizens create their digital identities and build online reputations. Rooting this initiative in broader art history, Casadei compared Bright Moments to Sol Levitt’s instructions for mounting artworks in galleries. Events in different cities are some sort of art happenings, which clearly depend on a community of both old and new “citizens.”

As we went further into the space and started to engage with the gallerists and artists, we came to realize that this world also felt new to the majority of the visitors. The whole experience of Art Dubai Digital felt at times like some kind of gaming hub, presenting unordinary concepts. While some visitors seemed to struggle to appreciate the intricacies and thought process behind digital pieces, most were left with the feeling of acceptance and optimism. “NFTs are here to stay and we need to accept the different approaches that are being developed right now,” is the opinion we were personally left with.


As we went further into the space and started to engage with the gallerists and artists, we came to realize that this world also felt new to the majority of the visitors.



5. Fingerprint Dao, Seed Capital, 2022. Art Dubai Digital 2022. Photo courtesy of Alessia Piacitelli and Amy Qian.
 6. Refik Anadol, installation view at Pivelneli Gallery booth, Art Dubai Digital 2022. Photo courtesy of Alessia Piacitelli and Amy Qian.


Not all Art Dubai Digital booths were as detached from the tangible world. Sam Spike from Fingerprint DAO explained the concept behind Seed Capital (2022), the artwork on view at Fingerprint DAO’s booth. The installation consisted of a plant which ground humidity and temperature were analyzed every fifteen minutes. Based on the health of the plant, NFT certificates were being issued right in front of the viewer. If the certificate reported good results, the artwork could be bought.

Whereas these new developments might seem disruptive to the art market, one should not forget that some artists, such as the renowned Turkish media artist Refik Anadol – presented by Istanbul-based Pilevneli Gallery – found a logical continuation of their practice in the world of NFTs. Anadol’s new media works have always been based on code and data analysis. Blockchain represents a a new way of transporting – or encrypting – his creative output. His living compositions and data visualizations looked stunning on walls, as portals that can transport viewers to previously unimaginable worlds. These worlds are now slowly but steadily occupying space in the art world. As an example, it was said that agents of digital galleries reached out to their counterparts in other halls of the fair, to what have now become “traditional” contemporary art galleries, and asked whether their artists were interested in “going digital.”


Whereas these new developments might seem disruptive to the art market, one should not forget that some artists, such as the renowned Turkish media artist Refik Anadol – presented by Istanbul-based Pilevneli Gallery – found a logical continuation of their practice in the world of NFTs.



NFTs represent a new, refreshing way of exhibiting and selling art. Storage and transportation are simplified. Issues of provenance and authenticity are automatically solved by blockchain technology. For artists and collectors alike, the idea of emitting eternal royalty fees is extremely tempting. While many people dislike this idea, NFTs represent an inevitable future for the contemporary art world. Art Dubai Digital has shown ways in which digital artists and dealers can educate a new public, and expand the definition of physical art (installations, sculptures, paintings, photographic prints, sketches, drawings, and more) with elements and tools of digital activation.

7. “Dubai Youth and Crypto” talk, Art Dubai Digital 2022. Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Photo courtesy of Alessia Piacitelli and Amy Qian.

In parallel to Art Dubai Digital, there were a number of talks surrounding topics of memes, image circulation, crypto gaming, and NFTs. Aside from Dorian Batycka’s fascinating Global Art Forum 15 lectures on meme culture and the vocabulary of “the world of crypto/blockchain/NFTism,” we had the opportunity to attend another talk called “Dubai Youth and Crypto” featuring Yasmine Karimi, an 18-year-old undergraduate student and co-founder of Menaverse gaming guild, and Mr. KEY (Karnika E. Yashwant), an impact entrepreneur who has been in the blockchain space since 2013. Mr. KEY stressed that crypto is community-driven. The next step for NFTs is to “provide a platform to allow everyone to shine,” he said. Art Dubai provided multiple entry points into conversations around digital art, and included young, community-led initiatives with Dubai’s fast-growing art scene. Huda, one of the volunteers of this year’s Art Dubai, assisted with the information desk and helped guide the visitors. Interested in photography, she was amazed by the variety of galleries at the fair, including the digital ones. “This is my first time at Art Dubai. The people, the culture, and the art are really beautiful and innovative,” she said.



Alessia Piacitelli is an Italian-Russian student at New York University Abu Dhabi where she studies Art History and Economics. Interested in the development of the art market in the UAE, she currently interning for Carbon 12 gallery and pursuing a Student Assistantship at NYUAD Art Gallery.

Amy (Yuanchen) Qian is from Wuxi, China. A second-year student studying Art History at New York University Abu Dhabi, her research interests focus on East Asian contemporary art. She worked as a Volunteer for Art Dubai 2022.