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Global Art Forum 05: Changing Audiences

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.

The Middle East, North Africa & South Asia (MENASA) region’s leading platform for cultural debate and discussion, the Global Art Forum 2011 focused on key issues that bring together the arts scenes of the region with the rest of the world. Having celebrated its fifth edition in 2011, the Forum was put together by a curatorial committee chaired by Shumon Basar and included Tirdad Zolghadr, Antonia Carver and Claudia Cellini, and focused broadly on the theme of Changing Audiences. Specific strands – explored through keynotes, panels, workshops, conversations and performances – looked at the mutual sympathies between fashion and art, and how artists see their role in relation to new audiences.

Global Art Forum 5 was presented by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) in partnership with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (Qatar Museums Authority), Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH) and the Ministry of Culture, Kingdom of Bahrain.

Global Art Forum 5 started in Doha at the newly opened Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. This leg of the Forum, co-curated by the Forum Committee and Mathaf’s Director, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, and Head of Education, Michelle Dezember, addressed the timely topic of engaging, creating and maintaining audiences in which established cultural institutions as well as ephemeral initiatives shared their experiences.

The Forum moved on to Dubai and began with the theme of Fascination: When Art Met Fashion, which unraveled the relationship that has developed between fashion and art over the last few decades, including the role of magazine-as-broker and also how fashion houses have become some of the most notable patrons for contemporary art.

The Forum’s attention then transitioned to Disappointment Management: Artists & Audiences, which looked at how and if artists reinvent their roles in relation to new kinds of audiences.

In 2010, the Global Art Forum launched an artist-in-residence commission programme that responded to the ephemeral, discursive nature of the discussion series. As this year’s commissioned artist, Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s print and web-based project involved developing a trail of bibliographic references through the four days of talks.

New this year was a series of practical workshops that ran alongside the Forum aimed at regionally-based artists, curators and arts practitioners. Well-respected arts professionals offered advice and training in often-neglected areas such as art law, creating and managing contracts, relationships with galleries, curators and critics.



In 2010, the Global Art Forum launched an artist-in-residence commission programme that responded to the ephemeral, discursive nature of the discussion series. That year, Haig Aivazian and Shumon Basar were commissioned to take the discussions at the forum as source material for a series of performance-lectures. As last year’s commissioned artist, Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s work with the programme as it evolved prior to the fair. Sadr Haghighian’s print and web-based project involved developing a trail of bibliographic references through the four days of talks; the completed project is hosted here. Sadr Haghighian’s compilation of recommended reading and viewing matter for each themed discussion at the Forum embraces the idiosyncratic nature of the journeys that we typically take while researching online, and plays with the idea of bibliographical reference – and, more generally, also what it means to ‘provide’ knowledge or information.

Natascha Sadr Haghighian is represented by Johann König, Berlin.

The artist has dedicated the first Mirror as a special memorial to Ahmed Basiony, who lost his life in Tahrir Square in February 2011.




Shumon Basar
Antonia Carver
Claudia Cellini
Tirdad Zolghadr


Brahim Alaoui
Shaina Anand
Jack Bankowsky
Wafaa Bilal
Pierre Bal-Blanc
Germano Celant
Stuart Comer
Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy
Chris Dercon
Liu Ding
Masoud Golsorkhi
Dr. Isabelle Graw
Natascha Sadr Haghighian

Nav Haq
Malak Helmy
Wassan Al-Khudhairi
Joerg Koch
Vasif Kortun
Sylvia Kouvali
Jo Backer Laird
Helmut Lang
Carol Yinghua Lu
Sebastian Lütgert
Suhail Malik
Professor Penny Martin
Chus Martínez

Salwa Mikdadi
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Rémi Paringaux
Rashid Rana
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi
Grazia Quaroni
Noura Al Sayeh
Slavs and Tatars
Philip Tinari
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie


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.