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Global Art Forum 07: It Means This

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.

In 2013, the seventh iteration of the Global Art Forum was directed by Istanbul based writer/editor HG Masters, and commissioned by writer/curator Shumon Basar. Entitled ‘It Means This’ , the forum explored the concept of ‘definitionism’: investigating the words, terms, clichés and misunderstandings that proliferate in the art world and beyond. The Forum attempted to (re)define words, phrases and ideas we think we know, and those we need to know, to navigate the 21st century.

Each session or element of the Forum took on a keyword; some were terms we use every day – such as Heritage, Biography, Freezone, Score and Place (looking particularly at how the cities Lagos and Ramallah having been shaped by writers and artists). Other terms may be less familiar – included Academese, Advert Adverts, Drone Fiction, MENA (Middle East Nervous Anxiety), or Neologism. The eclectic line-up of Forum contributors were set to pick apart these terms through talks, debates, performances, TV clips, new publications, films, music, and so much more.

Forum visitors were also invited to a special lecture by architect Rem Koolhaas at Virginia Commonwealth University’s biannual art and design conference, Tasmeem Doha 2013 – Hybrid Making, on March 17 following the Global Art Forum sessions at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.


The Forum Forum is a media repository, which, in 2013, was located at Art Dubai and, simultaneously, at Mathaf: Arab Museum for Modern Art. It comprises an array of content inspired by the theme of “It Means This”. These include commissioned publications and projects, as well as several artworks shown in the Gulf for the first time. This year’s focus in the Forum Forum is on “Autobiography”.

The videos comprising the Forum Forum were displayed in Doha inside a stretch limousine parked outside of Mathaf: Museum of Modern Arab Art. In Dubai, the Forum Forum was situated in a custom-built platform in the Joharah Foyer, at Art Dubai.




FRANT: Frankenethics

Where do you get your ethics from after all the certainties you once took for granted are strewn around you like broken ruins? What’s right? Who’s wrong? You? Me? Shall we start all over again? Who makes the first move?

Brian Kuan Wood (Editor of e-flux journal)

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PRESENTATION: Autobiography

What makes up your life? Was it style? Was it substance? Was it family? Or was it your demons? Can you ever hope to convey your inner life to those around you? Do you narrate it in real time or in the past tense? Do you wait till you’re famous or till you’ve died and become a legend?

Tristan Bera (Artist) and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (Artist)

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DISCUSSION: Place (Lagos)

Dream, memory, or reality? What unique perspectives can the visitor, the exile/expatriate and the local resident each offer on what means to encounter, belong, or lament somewhere? What is the best way to traverse it? By foot, by car, by helicopter? Can you capture it, in words, images or sound? Is Lagos’ teeming size and shape something that can be grasped as a whole or only in parts?

Bisi Silva (Founder and director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos), HG Masters (Director of Global Art Forum 7), Emeka Ogboh (Artist) and Tolu Ogunlesi (Writer)

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POLEMICS: Freezone

What is this non-place?

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla (Professor of political science), Manal Al Dowayan (Artist) and Parag Khanna (Geostrategist)

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FRANT: National Art

Is it possible for an individual artist or a style of art-making to represent a country? Or does the nation define the artist and artistic practice? What aspects of citizenship does the artist affirm, and what aspects of nationalism can the artist undermine?

Reem Fadda (Associate curator of Middle Eastern art for the Guggeinheim Abu Dhabi project)

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What is this place—impervious to scrutiny from customs officials, tax collectors, politicians or religious authorities? What is this non-place—which like an archipelago spans the world from Hong Kong, to Dubai and onto Geneva and Panama? What goes on there? Is it a sanctuary or a prison, a refuge or a black-site?

Turi Munthe (Demotix founder), Abdulkhaleq Abdulla (Professor of political science), Manal Al Dowayan (Artist) and Parag Khanna (Geostrategist)

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PROJECT: Forum Fellows

A presentation of Global Art Forum’s fellowship programme. With a focus on translation, four writers, artists and curators from the Arab world meet to discuss and unravel the practice of working across Arabic and English, through a series of intensive workshops led by writer and translator Omar Berrada.

Omar Berrada (Curator, translator, and Dar Al-Ma’mun co-director), Sarah Abu Abdallah (Artist), Khalid Hadeed (Independent scholar), Alia Al Sabi (Writer) and Fadi Tofeili (Poet/translator)


COMMISSION: Adverts Adverts

What does advertising for advertising look like? When the seller is being sold, who and what is really for sale? Does the ad have a catchy tune? Are there people smiling? Do you want a refund?

Lantian Xie (Artist)



Artists and curators involved in AiR Dubai’s residency programme 2011-2013 share their experiences and new projects.

Chaired by Aaron Cezar (Director of Delfina Foundation)

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Shumon Basar

HG Masters


Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla
Sarah Abu Abdallah
Charles Arsene-Henry
Tarek Atoui
Rayya Badran
Mourid Barghouti
Yto Barrada
Elif Batuman
Josh Begley
Tristan Bera
Omar Berrada
Victoria Camblin
Douglas Coupland
Nada Dada
Manal Al Dowayan
Keller Easterling
Reem Fadda

Hu Fang.
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
Khalid Hadeed
Shuruq Harb
Suna Kafadar
Lara Khaldi
Hassan Khan
Parag Khanna
Koyo Kouoh
Guy Mannes-Abbott
Turi Munthe
Abdullah Al Mutairi
Hans-Ulrich Obrist
Emeka Ogboh

Tolu Ogunlesi

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi
Uzma Z. Rizvi
Alia Al Sabi
Bisi Silva
Michael Stipe
Slavs And Tatars
Fadi Tofeili
Andre Vida
James Westcott
Charly Wilder
Brian Kuan Wood
Ala Younis
Tarik Yousef
Lantian Xie
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.