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Continuing its mandate to foster and develop Dubai’s artistic community, Art Dubai’s sixth edition of A.i.R Dubai has developed beyond being a residency programme. For the first time, the commissions will become permanent public works, thus making a lasting imprint on the city of Dubai. Held in partnership with Tashkeel and the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, A.i.R Dubai 2017 will feature commissions by Shaikha Al Mazrou, Chafa Ghaddar and Zeinab Alhashemi, and is curated by Amanda Abi Khalil.

Chafa Ghaddar, I am still learning, 2017


Curatorial Statement

Public art commissioning is known to be a challenging procedure. It requires simultaneous cooperation from artists, curators, cultural actors, policy makers, contractors, engineers, craftsmen and laborers amongst many others. It could be defined as an invitation to an artist to confront his/her practice by creating a site-specific work questioning a determined context while introducing new givens that relate to the duration of the work and its exposure to multiple unbiased receptions and reactions. Ideally, commissions must also address the broader discursive practice and curatorial rhetoric around public art.

How to take up these challenges when “In its compulsion to urgently and conspicuously manifest itself, Dubai is challenging the notions of what a city is?[1]” How to grapple with questions of contextualisation, site-specificity and permanence when the city is in a constant state of flux?  Islands mushrooming, topography in mutation, re-rooted canals and altered vegetation are the few notes that helped shape this commission. “Shifting sands” has imposed itself as a thematic, referring both to the place and to the commissioning project itself, which witnessed some thought-provoking curves along the way. Three artists were selected to respond to a place of their choice amongst a list of possible locations.

By infiltrating existing spaces in a state of transformation, these site-specific works will attempt to create a sense of duration, also in the conversations, invisible negotiations and political agitation they would have triggered. This pilot commission as part of A.I.R hopes to resonate the aesthetics and the integrity of public art beyond the specifics of Dubai especially that this field is developing rapidly in the region, but also at times instrumentalised.

[1] Brian Ackley ’Permanent Vacation’’ (2007) in With/ Without edited by Shumon Basar, Antonia Carver and Markus Miessen.  Published by Bidoun and Moutamarat.

Shaikha Al Mazrou

Stand Here, 2016

Shaikha Al Mazrou (1988) was born in the UAE. She received her masters in 2014 at the Chelsea College of Fine Arts in the University of the Arts in London, where she was awarded the prestigious MFA Student Prize. Prior to that, she studied at the college of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Sharjah where she is currently a sculpture lecturer.


Amanda Abi Khalil (1985) is an independent curator currently based in Beirut. She has been focusing her curatorial projects on socially engaged practices and exhibitions that critically address modes of production and exhibition in the art world today.  She is the founder of Temporary Art Platform, a curatorial platform that aims to shift artistic and curatorial discourse towards social and contextual concerns in Lebanon through residencies, research projects and commissions. Abi Khalil lectures in curating and sociology of arts at the American University of Beirut (AUB) the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) and the Saint Joseph University (USJ) in Beirut.