Art Dubai Fellowship is a programme for exceptional curators and writers working in the Arab world and beyond, coming together for a week-long series of intensive workshops during Art Dubai.

Twenty-six fellows have participated since 2011; together, they form a dynamic alumni group, with several continuing to collaborate and support each other, beyond their experiences on the programme.

In response to the Global Art Forum’s theme of ‘The Medium of Media’, the Forum Fellows returned in 2012 as an intensive writing workshop and a series of closed-door, round-table discussions, culminating in a public presentation staged on the final day of the Forum in Dubai. Organised by critic Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, the program brought together a dynamic group of writers, including artists, curators and cultural practitioners who consider writing a crucial part of their practice.

The 2012 edition of the fellowship program was plotted along two axes. The first axis was a series of discussion sessions arranged around notions of obsession and neglect. The Forum Fellows invited a number of people from the wider fair community to join in debates about the tensions and pressures that are brought to bear on writing as criticism, journalism and an artistic practice in and of itself. Of particular interest was overcoming the two-part problem of obsessing over the present (keeping pace with the political upheavals, financial collapses and social ruptures of the past year, for example) while neglecting the past (failing to make critical reflection or serious art historical research an integral part of the writing process).

The second axis was an intensive writing workshop, for which the participants produced and critiqued short texts on a daily basis. Without the imperative to publish, the workshop seeked to encourage formal innovation and stylistic experimentation, with an emphasis on the performative potential of texts created amid inevitably strange circumstances – the noncommercial, discursive platform of a commercial art fair in Dubai. While the shape, tone and format of the various texts remained open, some of the possible story structures that the fellows responded to included: propositions, problematics, provocations, the world of the fair, the world beyond, mythologies of the city, secrets, rumours, mysteries and reprimands.

Fellows selected for the 2012 programme were:

Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

Rayya Badran

Jyoti Dhar

Shahira Issa

Rijin Sahakian