Art Radar explores the digital elements powering this year’s Beirut Art Fair.
The sixth edition of the intimate Beirut Art Fair (17-20 September 2015) opens with a compelling digital art segment and the presence of more than 50 galleries.
The Beirut Art Fair has been introducing established and emerging artists from the ME.NA.SA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) region to curators, collectors and institutions since 2010. The fair was founded by Laure d’Hauteville who recently commented on the website Blog and Brand that the event goes: “beyond stereotypes and ‘fashionable’ productions, beyond ideologies, religions, and political views, our desire is to organise events that promote a dialogue between cultures and broaden horizons.”
The Beirut Art Fair – or “our contemporary art fair” as it is known locally – is gaining international attention and interest. Last year, the fair saw 20,000 visitors coming from across Europe, the Gulf region and Asia, as well as many from the Lebanese diaspora, with sales of over USD4 million. The collector base of the fair has been traditionally local and, as d’Hauteville told Art Media Agency, the offerings are not considered the usual fare:
The goal of Beirut Art Fair is to ensure they do not find the same works in other fairs. If you go to Art Basel and the FIAC, you somewhat find the same key galleries with the same core works. Our positioning is different, we are a fair of discoveries.
In concert with their mission of cross-cultural exchange and innovation, d’Hauteville and Pascal Odille, Beirut Art Fair’s Artistic Director, established the Singapore Art Fair in 2014, bringing artists from the ME.NA.SA. region to Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, they have been forced to cancel this year’s edition due to the country’s independence celebrations, as The Art Newspaper reported earlier this month. The duo are, however, collaborating with Contemporary Istanbul in November 2015 – Turkey’s oldest contemporary art fair which, like the Beirut Art Fair, embraces a local audience.
Art Radar highlights three of the Beirut Art Fair’s offerings on display next week.
1. Digital Art | “Virtual Reality”
Paris-based Pascal Odille was first introduced to the Lebanese contemporary art scene more than 20 years ago by Laure d’Hauteville. Since his initial visit to Lebanon, Odille has spent time there as an independent curator and instructor, as well as becoming an integral component of the Beirut Art Fair. This year, he brings digital art to the event with a “Virtual Reality” exhibition. As Odille discussed in a recent press release:
Although our vision of photography has evolved tremendously, this does not seem the case for digital creation which still faces a lack of visibility and understanding from the public. Split between art and science, it is nevertheless, a significant element of contemporary creation. In the future it will be even more important as it opens the possibility of new playful interactions with the viewer.
“Virtual Reality” is designed to be largely interactive, leading the viewer to question reality based on one’s senses of feeling, sound or smell. The exhibition features artists from all corners of the globe, including:
- Marina Abramović
- Nadine Abou Zaki
- Elisabeth Caravella
- Diego Duvier Del Dago
- Antonello Ghezzi
- Janek Simon
- Vivian van Blerk
- Brigitte Zieger
2. Photography| Byblos Bank Award
One of the cornerstones of the Beirut Art Fair has been the inclusion of photography and fostering local talent. Since 2012, the fair has granted an emerging Lebanese photographer the Byblos Bank Award. To date, Myriam Boulos (2014), Ghaleb Cabbabé (2013) and Dory Younes (2012) have received the award. This year, Dimitri Beck, Editor-in-chief of French publication Polka Magazine will chair the 2015 jury.
3. Installation by Dina Maalof Katrib | “You are Me”
Dina Maalouf Katrib (b. 1970, Lebanon) is a self-taught artist and graphic designer who began her career crafting hand-made books, which eventually led to sculptures and installations. Her work has been exhibited at JABAL (2015), Made in Tashkeel (2011) and Cuadro Gallery (2011). Katrib currently lives and works in Dubai and has been commissioned to create an installation at the fair which, according to press materials, will question reality and self identity:
By combining mirrors and sculptures, the artist questions herself about self-perception and about the emotions we project as we look at others, leading us to introspection.
The fair rounds out its programme with educational roundtables, whose overall theme is “the changes affecting the art market”. Throughout the city, from 15 to 22 September, the third edition of the Beirut Art Week (PDF download) “invites artists to express themselves in the urban landscape of the capital”, with symbolic local landmarks hosting more than 20 interactive projects.
- Preview: START Art Fair at Saatchi Gallery spotlights emerging art scenes – August 2015 – Saatchi Gallery hosts art fair focusing on emerging artists and art scenes from Lagos to Tehran
- Beirut at a turning point: 5 new museums and art centres on the horizon – July 2015 – Beirut is slated to open important art venues despite political uncertainty
- Contemporary art in Beirut: Art Radar guide – April 2015 – Art Radar shares insights on where to see the best modern art in Lebanon’s capital city
- Silke Schmicki on body politics, video and the moving image at Beirut Art Fair 2014 – curator interview – September 2014 – experimental cinema and video are highlighted at the 5th edition of Beirut Art Fair
- 3 insiders reveal the hottest contemporary art venues in the Gulf – March 2014 – 3 art scene heavyweights divulge their favourite places to see art in the Middle East
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