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Global Art Forum 08: Meanwhile…History

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.

The eigth edition of the Global Art Forum was an imagined timeline of turning points in history – significant decades, years, days, minutes or seconds that shifted an understanding of the world. Some seem familiar. Others are broadcast from history’s blind spots. These coordinates come from the past, are present in our present and reach into the future.

Co-directed by curator-translator Omar Berrada of Dar al-Ma’mun and artist Ala Younis, and commissioned by writer Shumon Basar, ‘Meanwhile…History’ also reflected on the philosophy and fiction of making history matter. Every commission, publication, session and presentation was a point on an imagined timeline; as a whole, the Forum became a journey through known and unknown histories of critical change and secretly seismic moments.

The Forum was presented by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and was held in partnership with the Office of Strategic Cultural Relations at Qatar Museums Authority through their Years of Culture annual initiative. The Doha days of the Global Art Forum took place during the Qatar Brazil 2014 Year of Culture at Katara Art Center.

The Forum’s online partner was Ibraaz/Kamel Lazaar Foundation.

The International New York Times was the international media partner.

The title Meanwhile…History was conceived by Sophia Al-Maria


The commissioned publications, curated projects, and new research inspired by the Global Art Forum were presented in Forum Forum, a media repository section located in the art fair.

Short bulletins from the past, present and future punctuate the presentations over the course of the ‘Meanwhile…History’ and occupied the Forum Forum space. The Global Art Forum 8 commissions included new projects by the Gulf-based artists Sarah Abu Abdallah, Raja’a Khalid and Hind Mezaina.




Shumon Basar was Director of Global Art Forum 6, and Commissioner of Global Art Forum 7 and 8. His new book, co-authored with Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist, is called The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present. He is also advising Fondazione Prada on its new Milan cultural complex. @shumonbasar


Omar Berrada

Ala Younis


Amanda Abi Khalil
Sarah Abu Abdallah
Rahel Aima
John Akomfrah
Shiva Balaghi
Hubert Bari
Sulayman Al Bassam
Sheyma Buali
Jocelyne Dakhlia
Annabel Daou
Catherine David
Anastase Emmanuel
Okwui Enwezor
Solange O. Farkas

Marina Fokidis
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
Frauke Heard-Bey
Adina Hempel
Butheina Kazim
Raja’a Khalid
Kristine Khouri
Masha Kirasirova
Rolf Killius
Azar Mahmoudian
Ahmad Makia
Sophia Al-Maria
Hind Mezaina

H.E. Salem Al Moosa

Farah Al-Nakib
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Hisham Qaddumi
Yasmina Reggad
Todd Reisz
Yara Saqfalhait
Shuddhabrata Sengupta
Justin Stearns
Ania Szremski
Adam Szymczyk
Michael C. Vazquez
Marina Warner
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.