15 must-dos during Dubai Art Season

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Do you feel Art in the air? Do you see different corners of the city getting arty makeovers? Do you spot invitations to meet your favorite authors? Do you hear people planning their days at cultural sites across the city? We know you do, and rightly so. It’s Dubai Art Season! It is that time of the year again, when art and culture come to life across the city of Dubai, and the weeks are dotted with engaging and interesting activities, exhibitions, workshops, fairs, performances, and more.

Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated entity for arts, culture, heritage, and literature, is hosting the sixth edition of its annual flagship art initiative Dubai Art Season, under the patronage of under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture. The edition features an array of new activities, by existing and new partners, with a colourful and captivating tapestry of creative events across the city, under a new tagline ‘Take a Walk on the Art Side’, that invites the community to explore Dubai’s thriving art scene.

Although, every single event and activity under Dubai Art Season is tailor-made and carefully selected to cater to and engage all segments of the community across all age groups, there are the following that you cannot afford to miss. As the entity behind the grand celebration, Dubai Culture recommends and walks you through the 15 best programmes on the art side of the city, so you can create your own culture-rich itinerary for the coming weeks.

Enjoy poetry in the desert: Feed you poetic senses at Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature as it sees the return of its landmark event ‘Desert Stanzas’. You can be a part of the atmospheric evening and celebrate world poetry amidst the sand dunes, under a starlit sky, featuring the New Zealand poet laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Anis Chochene from Tunisia, and Emirati spoken word poets Afra Atiq and Salem Alattas, amongst many others.

Date and Venue: 5th March 2019, Desert Camp by Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

Experience SIKKA in new light:For the first time this year, Dubai Culture’s SIKKA Art Fair will offer two distinctive yet intertwined experiences. ‘SIKKA by Day’ that celebrates the Al Fahidi tenants, the neighborhood, and the art exhibitions and installations, and ‘SIKKA by Night’ which hosts multiple cultural activations that bring together some of the most celebrated artists from the local creative scene. Under the theme ‘An Open Window to Art & Tolerance’, this year’s edition reflects and celebrates the UAE’s values of co-existence and cultural diversity, inviting visitors to experience a colourful array of art exhibits, interactive installations, musical performances, film nights, and more – all in two different ways. Also worth exploring are the special projects including UAE at Crossroads Exhibition by the Zayed University students curated by Sabrina De Turk, and exciting site specific installations by Richard Ketley and Nkesani Rihlampfu presented by the Ajala Project.  

Date and Venue: 16th – 24th March, Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood.

Watch out for local talent: SIKKA Art Fair, a Dubai Culture initiative under Dubai Art Season, will, this year, host a total of 20 Emirati artists, amounting to 46 percent of the list which includes a total of 44 artists from across the world. The works of the Emirati artists will be worth looking out for, as they offer a rare peek into the art scene in the Emirate. Some of the new names include Shoug Fardan, Fatma Abdulla, Noura Al Neyadi, and Rasha Saffarini, while returning artists are Sheika Al Awadi, Ameena Al Jarman, Jaber Al Haddad, and Ahmed Alanzi to name a few. Time to learn more about the local art landscape and the artists behind it!

Date and Venue: 16th – 24th March, Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood.

Witness daily life in your country: Don’t miss a unique opportunity to attend Streets of the World exhibition, which is the longest and the largest photography exhibition in the world, featuring works of the famous Dutch photographer, Jeroen Swolfs, and highlighting the daily life in capital cities of 195 countries. Visit and spot yours!

Date and Venue: Until 5th April, Al Seef, Dubai Creek

Explore the antiquity of gemstones: Enroll to a session titled ‘Discover the gemstones’ at L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels Campus. Learn what goes behind beautiful pieces of jewelry and explore the art of jewelry making in a coursework being offered by the Paris-based school of jewelry art, in Dubai. Take away? Fascinating secrets of the world of gemstones and jewelry.

Date and Venue: 3rd – 6th April, Hai, Dubai Design District(d3)

Try your hand at Arabic Calligraphy: Enroll for a workshop at Dubai International Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition and learn the art of beautifying letters as you write. Also you can explore works of hundreds of calligraphers that gives interesting insights into the modern and traditional techniques of calligraphic expression.

Date and Venue: 27th April – 5th May, Wafi Mall

Attend HIPA award ceremony: Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum International Photography Award (HIPA) will hold its grand award ceremony for its eight season. The celebration will bring together experts, amateurs, and admirers of the art of photography under one roof. If good photographs inspire you, this award ceremony is a must attend.

Date and Venue: 12th March, Dubai Opera House

Celebrate your foreign home dilemmas: VisitAltered Inheritances: Home is a Foreign Place’, the exhibition described as a conversation between Shilpa Gupta and Zarina, from Ishara Art Foundation at the Galleries Night (Alserkal Avenue). Visit to navigate the notions of belonging with nuanced, poetic, and personal evocations of how geographical dislocation transforms ordinary lives.

Date and Venue: 18th March, Alserkal Avenue

Get entertained at DIFC Art Nights: Along with a unique fusion of art, culture, and entertainment, witness the financial center of Dubai embrace creativity in an engaging manner. Enjoy works of emerging and established artists from around the world and participate in creative activities at one of the most awaited evenings of Dubai Art Season this year.

Date and Venue: 18th March, The Gate Village, DIFC

See vases like never before: You would have never thought vases can come in so many sizes, shapes, materials, and designs. This exhibition has an exciting story to tell. Attend the 1000 Vases exhibition and explore the creations of young independent designers, that reflect the personality, the universe, and the sensitivity of vases.

Date and Venue: 19th – 25th March, Dubai Design District (d3)

Comprehend the art of belonging: Watch out for the Belonging Exhibition if you want to experience the magic of attachment and identity. A selection of works by Palestinian artists across different generations underscores how they convey a common message of attachment to their identity. This enigmatic exhibition explores how is belongingness portrayed in art, in a world of migration influxes.

Date and Venue: 19th – 25th March, Dubai Design District (d3)

Rejoice togetherness: The performance programme for the 2019 edition of Art Dubai, has been developed by contemporary art institution Kunsthalle Lissabon, and is an unforgettable celebration of togetherness. Choose from a series of performances that will take place in form of gatherings, dances, processions, and festivities. Along with the glimpses of modern and contemporary art works by artists from across the world, the performances will be a not-to-miss part of Art Dubai this year.

Date and Venue:20th – 23th March, Madinat Jumeirah

Meet American actor Mike Colter: Highly recommended for Sci-Fi, Comics and Collectibles, the Middle East Film & Comic Con this year brings the popular American actor Mike Colter to Dubai. Get a chance to meet the remarkable artist who has appeared in globally acclaimed movies like Men In Black 3 and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.

Date and Venue: 11th – 13th April, Dubai World Trade Centre

Buy an artwork: Get home a new art-piece, as you select your favorite art work from a palate of international and local artists at World Art Dubai. Making art accessible for collectors and enthusiasts, the event offering affordable and original art under one roof, is a must visit for all art lovers. The collection of 3,000 paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs ranging from $100 – $20,000 from solo artists and international galleries, will be on display.
Date and Venue: 3rd – 6th April, Dubai World Trade Centre

Meet LEGO’s senior design lead: Get an interactive insight into LEGO’s inner thinking and creative process with Siddharth Muthyala, Product and Interaction Designer at LEGO, where he is the Senior Design Lead for the Secondary school segment. At ING Creative Festival, Sid will speak on learning through play and the crucial role play has in shaping children and adults. Sid steals the limelight at the community event this year.

Date and Venue: 12th April, Dubai Design District (d3)

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