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Global Art Forum 01

Each year, the Global Art Forum brings together a diverse line-up of artists, curators, musicians, writers and thought leaders. The Forum is recognised for its collaborative, innovative approach to the art world and draws on other disciplines and experiences to take a broad ‘helicopter view’. It includes performance, music, commissioned research and projects alongside live talks.

Over the years, the Forum has toured to Qatar, Kuwait, France and the UK, and grown to include publications, workshops and other educational initiatives.

It is said that Dubai is the most global of the global cities, and thus the perfect setting for a new three-day discussion platform: DIFC Global Art Forum. The Forum, hosted by the DIFC Gulf Art Fair, brought an international group of over forty artists, curators, dealers, museum directors, critics and academics together for three days to focus on issues affecting art and the arts community, with the consideration of the Middle East as a driving force.

Bringing an open forum to an Art Fair is a complex balancing act, as the commercial aspects of an art market often challenge the positions of artists, curators and exhibition makers. The DIFC Global Art Forum hopes to reconcile these diverse perspectives and map out the constellation of ideas and opinions defining art today and in the future. The central themes of this year’s Forum were Artists and their work, the next ten years of contemporary art and the Middle East cities and culture.


DIFC Global Art Forum hopes to initiate a discussion where artists can be at the centre of the conversation, and not just its topic. Thus, in this launch year, we have invited curators from around the world, showing their work and talking about their practice and vision.

The Next Ten Years of Contemporary Art in the Middle East will focus on major transformations that are happening in the region which have and will have significant global ramifications. Artists, art professionals and institutions around the globe, such as public vs. private funding, control systems, freedom of expression, societies and/or governments, and the negotiation between artistic innovation and audience expectations. If societies are to survive into the next century on a more constructive note, it is imperative that they begin to understand how these changes are affecting cultural cartographies and artistic production as they address broader concerns from history, memory and even spirituality.

Culture is increasingly becoming an economic driver. Some call it the ‘Bilbao effect’, but this is only one of the most recent examples of how cities use culture to create environments for their citizens and to claim a unique position in the global economy. The “post-industrial” economy is a “cultural” economy – with the very understanding of culture itself being appropriated by the enlarged provision of (and longing for) meaningful “experience”. There is a clear epochal shift from the perspective of planning urban development and the integrated model of creative city and how it impacts on the lives and working conditions of city dwellers. The Cities and Culture Forum will involve cultural leaders from London, Paris, New York, Mumbai, Zurich, Berlin and Dubai sharing their ideas about how to consider the establishment and development of the “Art City”. The influence of architecture, design, urban planning and technology will also be examined.



Art Dubai Think Tank (by invitation only)

Artists’ Interviews

Otto Piene (Artist, Dusseldorf) and Daniel Birnbaum (Director of the Städelschule Art Academy and Portikus Gallery)

Kader Attia (Artist) and Jerome Sans (Director of Program, Baltic Art Center)

Jan Faber (Artist) and Daniel Birnbaum (Director of the Städelschule Art Academy and Portikus Gallery)

Erwin Wurm (Artist) and Michelle Nicol (Curator, co- founder, Glamour Engineering)

Wim Delvoye (Artist) and Vasif Kortun (Curator, Director, Platform Garanti)

Working with Artists

Discussion: Collectors, Art Consultants and Philanthropists

Charles Asprey (Curator and collector, Charles Asprey Award for Palestinian Art)

Maria Finders (DIFC GAF Curator, Director Europe, Brunswick Arts)

Judith Greer (Art Collector)

Mon Mullerschoen (Art Consultant)

The Serpentine Gallery as a laboratory 

Julia Peyton Jones (Director, Serpentine Gallery)

Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Gallery, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects)



The Next Ten Years of Contemporary Art in the Middle East 

Saleh Barakat (Art Expert)

Camilla Cañellas (Writer, Critic and Curator)

Bassam El-Baroni (Art Critic and Curator)

Vasif Kortun (Curator, Director, Platform Garanti)

Hassan Khan (Editor, Bidoun)

Jack Persekian (Director, Sharjah Biennial, Curator, Founder and Director of Anadiel Gallery and Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art)

Tirdad Zolghadr (Curator)

Open Stage for the Middle East

Sharjah Biennial 8

Savita Apte (Curator, Writer, Head of Education, DIFC Gulf Art Fair)

Anita Dube (Artist)

Jitish Kallat (Artist)

Haluk Akakce (Artist)

Solmaz Shabazi (Artist)

Platform Garanti

Asma M’Naouar (Artist) and Manisha Parekh (Artist)

Jalal Toufic (Writer, Film Theorist, and Video Artist) and Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Gallery, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects)



Branding Cities through Culture

Lisa Ball-Lechga (Editor, Arts Manager and Cultural Consultant), David Barri (Director, The Art Fund)

Daniel Birnbaum (Director, the Städelschule Art Academy and Portikus Gallery)

Jan Dalley (Arts Writer, Financial Times)

Donna De Salvo (Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs, Whitney Museum of American Art)

Kamran Diba (Architect)

Dana Farouki (Special Coordinator for the Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, Management committee DIFC Gulf Art Fair)

Jean-Hubert Martin (Curator, Direction des Musée de France)

Otto Piene, (Artist)

Alireza Sami Azar (Curator, Writer, Former Director, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art)

Andrée Sfeir-Semler (Director, Galerie Sfeir-Semler)

Building Future Art Cities

Andreas Angelidakis (Architecture and Digital Design)

Nadim Karam (Artist and Architect)

Langlands & Bell (Architects and Designers)

Farshid Woussavi (Architect, Foreign Office Architects)

World Art Cities, Cairo, Mumbai, Paris, New York, Beijing 

Cairo – William Wells (Director, The Townhouse Gallery)

Mumbai – Savita Apte (Curator, Writer, Head of Education, DIFC Gulf Art Fair)

Paris – Jill Silverman (Partner, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac)

New York – Bob Monk (Director, Gagosian Gallery)

Beijing – Lance Fung (Curator, Art Dealer, Artistic Director, Site Santa Fe 2008)

Moderated by Maria Finders (DIFC GAF Curator, Director Europe, Brunswick Arts)


Haluk Akakce
Andreas Angelidakis
Savita Apte
Charles Asprey
Kader Attia
Alireza Sami Azar
Saleh Barakat
Bassam El-Baroni
David Barri
Lisa Bell-Lechga
Daniel Birnbaum
Camilla Cañellas
Jan Dalley
Donna De Salvo
Wim Delvoye
Kamran Diba

Anita Dube
Jan Faber
Dana Farouki
Maria Finders
Lance Fung
Judith Greer
Julia Peyton Jones
Jitish Kallat
Nadim Karam
Hassan Khan
Vasif Kortun
Langlands & Bell
Jean-Hubert Martin
Asma M’Naouar
Bob Monk
Mon Mullerschoen

Michelle Nicol
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Manisha Parekh
Jack Persekian
Otto Piene
Platform Garanti
Jerome Sans
Andrée Sfeir-Semler
Solmaz Shabazi
Jill Silverman
Jalal Toufic
William Wells
Farshid Woussavi
Erwin Wurm
Tirdad Zolghadr


Global Art Forum is an annual, transdisciplinary summit, based in Dubai, which combines original thinking and contemporary themes in an intimate, live environment. Since 2007, the Forum has been a key part of Art Dubai’s extensive cultural programming. Featuring live talks guided by a curated theme, Global Art Forum has brought together over 500 global minds from pop culture to renowned academia: artists, curators, museum directors, filmmakers, novelists, historians, philosophers, technologists, entrepreneurs, musicians and performers. Central to Global Art Forum’s continuing success is the dialogue the platform fosters across disciplines, reporting from every part of the world to paint a truly 21st century portrait of how the globalised world thinks. Recently, the Forum has been invited to present special editions at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; and the ArtScience Museum, Singapore. Global Art Forum is supported by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.