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 seek 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.
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.