Abu Dhabi Hosts Interactive Virtual Art Fair

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 12th Abu Dhabi Art event will take place from Nov. 19 to 26 as an interactive virtual art fair.

For Dyala Nusseibeh, the fair’s director since 2016, organizing the high-end event differently this year has been a timely opportunity to improve its online presence.

“It’s been exciting. We’ve thought for a long time about what our website was and how we connect with people virtually,” she told Arab News.

“Normally, we’re so busy with the actual physical event that it kind of takes a backburner and we don’t think about it. So, this year we’ve actually thought: What are we doing online – can we do it better?”

Although collectors traditionally view and purchase art in person, Nusseibeh noted that the number of people buying art digitally had increased in the past few months.

However, she said virtual events could never fully replicate the feel and richness of physical ones. “If you love art and collecting it, nothing replaces being in front of a work,” she added.

Through this year’s clickable fair, art enthusiasts, collectors, and dealers will be able to make an online visit to a selection of booths, showcasing contemporary artworks from regional and overseas galleries. In addition, studio visits, fair tours, and artist talks will be available.

And for the first time in Abu Dhabi Art’s history, six international curators have been invited to design different sections of the fair, each focusing on specific geographical locations.

Nusseibeh said: “We have not compromised on quality. Whether you’re exploring contemporary art in South Korea today or artists from the African continent, there’s a lot of thought that’s gone into the works that are chosen.”

Marking 40 years of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Korea, a section of South Korean art – curated by Sung-woo Kim – from emerging and established artists will be presented.

Other dedicated displays include socially engaged art hailing from India and Africa – curated by Ashwin Thadani and Simon Njami, respectively – that have undergone massive changes in recent decades.

On the national front, the independent curator Maya El-Khalil will place the focus on UAE-based artists, attempting to support and promote their artistry in “Beyond: Emerging Artists.”

Meanwhile, performance and sound art – curated by London’s Rose Lejeune – are also on the agenda, where artists thoughtfully explore social, spatial issues related to the modern day.

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