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Global Art Forum 09: Download Update?

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 ninth edition of the Global Art Forum took on the theme of technologies and their impact on the world of art and culture.

Titled Download Update?, the Forum was co-directed by Turi Munthe and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, with Shumon Basar as Director-at-Large.

Drawing in a range of speakers from across art, new media, web, design and literature, the Global Art Forum debated how technologies have transformed not only the way we work, but how we think, interact, learn and create.

The Forum was conceived by Shumon Basar as Commissioner, with Amal Khalaf and Uzma Z. Rizvi as Co-directors.

The 2015 Global Art Forum was presented by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and supported by Dubai Design District (d3)

The 2015 Global Art Forum Kuwait was supported by the Tamdeen Group and took place at Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, in association with Sultan Gallery and Nuqat. Global Art Forum Kuwait was accompanied by special exhibitions and events across the city.

The International New York Times was the international media partner of the Global Art Forum.


Relating to the Global Art Forum’s theme of technologies, the Global Art Forum in Kuwait included a Digitisation Workshop led by the Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong) and Sultan Gallery (Kuwait), which took place at Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah. The workshop featured the participation of the Arab Image Foundation; The Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah; The Khalid Shoman Foundation; Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Art and Letters; Kuwait University; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art; Palestinian Museum and Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.

The workshop was an opportunity to share best practice and debate both practical and conceptual ideas around the digitisation of archives and artworks, with particular reference to the Middle East and South Asia.

Sessions took place on March 15-16, 2015, totaling around six hours of intensive discussion and training for 26 participants, with priority given to those working in this area and based in the GCC and wider Middle East/South Asia region.

Download the resource bookle, authored by Kristine Khouri and Sabih Ahmed, with the Art Dubai team and based on discussion that took place during the workshop.

Download Booklet


Through an engagement with some of the existing and on-going archival projects in South Asia and West Asia, this workshop examined the very practice of archiving in a digital world as it is conducted in research institutions as well as its appropriation in artistic practice. The workshop included presentations and open-floor discussions to explore various questions ranging from what forms can archives take in the current technological milieu; how do we recover undocumented histories; can the very field of visual art be re-imagined through archiving; and, what questions do we want to ask of the future and what shape will we give to the past.

The workshop took as its point of departure the possibilities that lie in the wake of new archival initiatives in the Arab world, reaching out to individuals and entities engaged in or developing a project on digitising material.


Courtesy of Irine Kuklina.

Kristine Khouri is an independent researcher and writer based in Beirut, Lebanon. Her work focuses on modern art history in the Arab world, with an emphasis on institutional and exhibition history and networks. Khouri also frequently collaborates with artists as a researcher. @kristinekhouri

The Sultan Gallery has played an important role over the last forty years in introducing Arab artists to broader audiences, and helping to establish a vital dialogue among artists and institutions working internationally. The Sultan Gallery was initially founded in Kuwait in 1969 by the late siblings Ghazi and Najat Sultan. @SultanGallery

Sabih Ahmed is a Senior Researcher at Asia Art Archive. Stationed in New Delhi, he has overseen numerous projects and research initiatives in India which include digitisation of personal archives as well as bibliography compilations of multi-lingual histories of art.

Asia Art Archive is an independent non-profit organisation initiated in 2000 in response to the urgent need to document and make accessible the multiple recent histories of art in the region. With an international Board of Directors, an Advisory Board made up of noted scholars and curators, and an in-house research team, AAA has collated one of the most valuable collections of material on contemporary art in the region—open to the public free of charge and increasingly accessible from its website. More than a static repository waiting to be discovered, AAA instigates critical thinking and dialogue for a wide range of audiences via public, research, residential, and educational programmes. @AsiaArtArchive


Reem Akl, Deputy Director, Arab Image Foundation, Beirut @AIFCom

Ammar Al Attar, Independent Artist, Dubai @ammarmak

Yousef Khalifa Al-Ghufli, Senior Project Coordinator, Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Abu Dhabi @YKSBS

Liane Al Ghusain, Writer and researcher and Nuqat’s Head of Research & Content Development, Kuwait City @lianelooks

Mohammed Al Kouh, Independent Artist, Kuwait City

Noora Al Musallam, Junior Architect, National Council for Culture, Art and Letters, Kuwait City

Noura Alsager, Writer and Independent Researcher, Kuwait City

Suad Alsanad, Student, Kuwait University’s Library and Information Science Graduate Program, Archiving & Cataloguing, Kuwait City @K_University

Zahra Ali Baba, Architect, Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Art and Letters

Rana Beiruti, Architect and Communications Office, Darat al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman @daratalfunun

Jenny Bellefenville, Sultan Gallery, Kuwait @SultanGallery

Sophie Budden, Conservator, Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah, Kuwait City @DAI_Kuwait

Amena Elezaby, Graphic Designer, Pace Architecture, Kuwait City

Reem Falaknaz, Photographer & TV producer/ director, The National Newspaper, Abu Dhabi Media, Abu Dhabi @reemfalaknaz

Sue Kaoukji, Chief Curator, Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah, Kuwait City @DAI_Kuwait

Faiza Ahmad Khan, Documentary Filmmaker, Mumbai

Irine Kuklina, Art reseacher, art advisor and editor of Artkuwait.org, Kuwait City @ArtKuwait

Joanne Lisinski, Head of Research, Mathaf, Doha @MathafModern

Kelley Lowe, MSc. Candidate, Conservation Studies, University College of London, Doha

Tiffany Malakooti, Independent / Bidoun Projects, New York City @Bidoun

Nicholas Martin, Librarian for Archives and Special Collections, NYUAD, Abu Dhabi @nyuadlibrary

Nasir Nasrallah, Independent Artist, Dubai

Ceyda Oksay, Visual Artist and Humanitarian Worker, Istanbul

Ruba Saleh, Research and Collections Manager, Palestinian Museum, Ramallah

Sara Saragoça Soares, Architect and Independent Researcher, Kuwait City

Zahed Sultan, Entrepreneur, multimedia artist and music producer, Kuwait City @ZahedSultan






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


Turi Munthe is a media and journalism entrepreneur with an interest in social enterprise, politics and the Middle East. In 2007, he founded Demotix, the multi-award winning citizen newswire. He advises, works with and invests in new media start-ups. @turi

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a commentator on political, social and economic issues in the Middle East. His columns appear in the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, The Independent and the Guardian. Al Qassemi is an MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow and the Founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. @SultanAlQassemi


Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s work deals with the relationship between listening and borders, human rights, testimony, truth and law. Abu Hamdan is the commissioned artist for the 2015 Armory and is included in Art Dubai Commissions 2015-2016. Previous solo exhibitions include ‘The Freedom Of Speech Itself’ (2012) at Showroom, London, and ‘Tape Echo’ (2013) at Beirut in Cairo and Van AbbeMuseum, Eindhoven. @LAbuHamdan

Georgina Adam is editor-at-large, art market, for The Art Newspaper, and writes a weekly column on Saturday for the Financial Times. In 2014 she published Big Bucks, The Explosion of the Art Market in the 21st century. In addition to her specialisation in the art market, Adam is particularly interested in emerging cultural centres. @georginaadam

Sabih Ahmed is a Senior Researcher at Asia Art Archive. Stationed in New Delhi, he has overseen numerous projects and research initiatives in India which include digitisation of personal archives as well as bibliography compilations of multi-lingual histories of art.

Taleb Alrefai is a Kuwaiti writer and journalist. His publications include: novels, short stories collections, a play, and critical works. His articles appear in Al-Jarida Kuwaiti newspaper and Al-Hayat. He won the Kuwait National Award for Arts & Literature in 2002, and was a chairman of Arabic Booker Prize for Fiction in 2009. He is a visiting Professor at the American University of Kuwait for Creative Writing. @talrefai1

Sulaiman Al Askari is a scholar, journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabi Magazine and former Secretary General of the National Council for Culture and Arts in Kuwait. Al Askari has supervised the publishing of cultural journals, taught at the University of Kuwait, and lectures regularly in national and international symposiums. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Manchester.

May Al-Dabbagh is Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, New York University Abu Dhabi. She combines social psychology, public policy, and feminist lenses to conduct research on women and work in Saudi Arabia. She holds a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Oxford University in psychology.

Manal Al Dowayan is an artist who uses photography, text and installation to examine Saudi identity, and in particular the role of women in contemporary society. Working mainly in black and white photography, she also experiments with other media and techniques. She has exhibited globally and is currently showing in two exhibitions in Dubai. @ManalAlDowayan

Dr. Saoud Al Mulla is Director, Higher Colleges of Technology-Dubai Colleges and holds a PhD in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, University of Gloucestershire, UK with a research focus on UAE cinema – history and culture identity. Dr. Saoud spent over 10 years in teaching and management in the applied media field and remains passionate about media and film making. @saoudAlMulla

Abdullah Al-Mutairi (b.1990 – Kuwait) is a Kuwaiti artist based in New York. He has exhibited at Art Dubai, UAE; Mathaf, Qatar; The Serpentine Gallery, UK; and contributed to Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets ongoing digital natives project 89plus. Al-Mutairi is also a member of the GCC collective, whose work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Fridericianum, New Museum and the Sultan Gallery, among other institutions. @Al_Bedoui

Mai Al-Nakib teaches English and Comparative Literature at Kuwait University. Her research addresses issues linked to cultural politics in the Middle East. Her collection of short stories, The Hidden Light of Objects, won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award in 2014. She is currently writing her first novel.

Hessa Al Ossaily is the first TV announcer in the country and is known as the “mother of UAE media.” She was Director of the Ministry of Information and Culture’s Exhibition Department for more than 30 years and Expo General Commissioner for the UAE at its pavilions at World Expos.

Al Anoud Al Sharekh is an award winning researcher and gender politics consultant, who has held teaching posts in Kuwait, Europe and the USA, including a Fulbright Scholarship on Women and Islam. She has published many books and articles on political cultures and GCC kinship policies including The Gulf Family and Popular Culture and Political Identity of the Arabian Gulf States. @AAlsharekh

Ayssar Arida is an urbatect, thinker, and design entrepreneur. He runs URBATECTURE urban design thinking from Beirut and London, and advises international organizations in culture, education, urbanism and design. He co-founded toy start-up urbacraft.com in 2014. His research focuses on the dialogue between popular culture, scientific paradigms, and urban planning, first introduced in his book Quantum City. @ayssar

Amar Bakshi is the founder of Shared Studios, an arts organization that incorporates technology into built environments to connect people across divides in geography, ideology, and identity. Shared Studios’ first major initiative, Portals, retrofits shipping containers with specialized audio-video communications equipment and places them in cities around the world. @amarcbakshi and @SharedStudios

Gala Berger is an artist based in Buenos Aires and co-founder of Museo La Ene, Galería Inmigrante and Urgente platform. She completed residencies in South Korea, Finland, Brazil and Mexico. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions in Argentina, Chile, Italy, USA, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico. Berger is also the co-founder of the first art book fair in Buenos Aires. @gellowgalica

Christopher Bevans is a Design Director for M3/Relativity Media and a Director’s Fellow at MIT Media Lab. His client roster includes Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, Daryl Hall, John Legend, Smithsonian Institute and Under Armour, among others. @cbevans1

James Bridle is a writer and artist based in London, UK. His writing on art, technology and culture is published by national newspapers and magazines, as well as online, and his work has been exhibited internationally. He can be found at booktwo.org. @jamesbridle

Simon Castets is the Director and Curator of Swiss Institute, New York. Along with Hans Ulrich Obrist, he is the co-founder of the research project 89plus, which investigates the generation of artists born with the introduction of the World Wide Web. He holds an MA in Curatorial Studies from Columbia University, New York and a MA in Cultural Management from Sciences Po, Paris. @SimonCastets

Sebastian Cwilich is the president and COO of Artsy, the art collecting and education resource. Artsy provides free access to an encyclopedic database of art, architecture, and design, spanning historical to modern and contemporary art. Previously, Sebastian launched Christie’s expanded private sales division, and was a software engineer at AT&T (Bell) Labs. @artsy and @scwilich

Roland Daher leads business development and strategic alliances at Wamda and is the founder of ElementM. He is a big believer in the social impact of entrepreneurship and strives to foster it in the Arab world. Daher is also a computer engineer from ESIB and Executive MBA graduate from London Business School.

Cécile B. Evans is an artist. Evans has exhibited internationally and is the recipient of awards such as Frieze’s Emdash Award and the Palais de Tokyo’s PYA Prize. She is the creator of AGNES, the Serpentine Galleries’ first digital commission and is currently working on a sequel to her recent film Hyperlinks or It Didn’t Happen. @cecilebevans

Kate Fowle is chief curator at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and director-at-large at Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York. Previously, she was executive director of ICI (2009-13), the inaugural international curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2007-08) and chair of the Master’s Program in Curatorial Practice, which she co-founded in 2002 for California College of the Arts in San Francisco. @garage_art

Thomas Galbraith is Managing Director, Auctions at Paddle8. He is responsible for managing Paddle8’s worldwide sales of art, design, and collectibles and oversees a teams of specialists based in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Thomas has deep experience in the online art landscape, among other positions, having worked at artnet AG serving as Director of Global Strategy. @Paddle8

GCC is a delegation of artists that is critically engaged with politics, business diplomacy, and corporate branding in the Gulf. Their softly subversive and critical artistic practice is best exemplified in their exhibition GCC: Achievements in Retrospective which debuted at MoMA PS1 and also shown at the Sharjah Art Foundation. The delegates are: Nanu Al-Hamad, Khalid Al Gharaballi, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Fatima Al Qadiri, Monira Al Qadiri, Aziz Al Qatami, Barrak Alzaid and Amal Khalaf.

Lara Khaldi is an independent curator based between Ramallah and Amsterdam. She recently completed the de Appel Curatorial Programme, Amsterdam, and is pursuing her MA degree at the European Graduate School. Khaldi was director of Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah (2012-13) and Assistant Director for programmes at Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE (2009-11). She is the curator of Art Dubai Commissions and A.i.R Dubai, residencies and projects 2015.

Ayesha Khanna is CEO of Technology Quotient, which develops content and technology platforms for the vocational and K-12 educational sectors. From Jan-Aug 2014, she served on the Singapore Ministry of Education’s ASPIRE Steering Committee on higher education reform. She is the Founder of 21C GIRLS, which delivers creative and engaging coding and robotics classes for school girls in Asia. @ayeshakhanna1

Parag Khanna is Managing Partner of Hybrid Reality, a geostrategic advisory firm. He is also a Senior Fellow of the New America Foundation and Adjunct Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is author of the international bestsellers The Second World and How to Run the World. @paragkhanna

Omar Kholeif is currently Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, Senior Curator at HOME, Manchester as well as Senior Editor of Ibraaz Publishing. Previously he was Curator at FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool. His books include Vision, Memory and Media (2010) and You Are Here: Art After the Internet (2014). Kholeif is The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2015 Guest Curator. @everythingOK

Kristine Khouri is an independent researcher and writer based in Beirut, Lebanon. Her work focuses on modern art history in the Arab world, with an emphasis on institutional and exhibition history and networks. Khouri also frequently collaborates with artists as a researcher. @kristinekhouri

Joanne Lisinski is Head of Research at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. Her work at Mathaf has resulted in the development of the Encyclopedia of Modern Art and the Arab World. Prior to her position at Mathaf, she held various roles in arts heritage and preservation in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. @MathafModern

Nuqat is a non-profit organisation for the development of art, culture and society based in Kuwait City. Nuqat has run an annual conference on art, design and creativity since its foundation in 2009 and regularly holds events and workshops in both Arabic and English covering topics in the fields of visual, therapeutic and performing arts in addition to business and entrepreneurship. @Nuqatweets

Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Since his first show “World Soup” (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 250 shows. @HUObrist

Dan O’Hara teaches at New College of the Humanities, London, and taught previously at the Universities of Cologne and Oxford. His most recent book is Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J. G. Ballard, 1967-2008. @skeuomorphology

The Otolith Group is an award winning artist led collective founded by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun in 2002. The Group’s work explores the legacies and potentials of liberation struggles, speculative futures and science-fictions. @theotolithgroup

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro is director and chief curator of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in New York and Caracas. He holds a PhD in Art History and Theory from Essex University and was curator of Latin American art at the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, and chief curator of the 6th Mercosur Biennial.

Jack Persekian is a curator, founder and director of Anadiel Gallery and the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem. Persekian was born in and currently based in Jerusalem, and is now the Director and Head Curator of the Palestinian Museum. @jackpersekian

Anders Petterson is the founder and managing director of ArtTactic Ltd, a London-based art market research and analysis company set up in 2001. Anders Petterson is a regular lecturer on the topic of ‘Art as an asset class’ and ‘Art market analysis’ at Sotheby’s Institute, Christie’s Education and IESA. @ArtTactic

Noah Raford is an advisor on futures, foresight, and innovation at the UAE Prime Minister’s Office. Noah helped establish the country’s first national foresight unit and is part of a special projects team that identifies emerging opportunities, develops strategic partnerships, and prototypes future initiatives. @nraford

Ruba Saleh is the Research and Collections Manager at the Palestinian Museum. She has a PhD in Regional Planning and Public Policy and her research interests include: space and power, spatial barriers and creativity, practices and policies, and informality and conflict. In 2012 she curated the international conference Jerusalem City Portrait at Venice University of Architecture.

Lana Shamma is currently based in Doha where she heads the Reading & Writing Development Program at Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing. As a Fulbright Fellow in Amman, she researched the effect of the film partnerships between the US and Jordan. She received her Masters in Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. @itslanaaa

Laurent Gaveau took the reins of the Lab of the Google Cultural Institute in December 2013. Before joining Google, Laurent Gaveau was Deputy Director of Communications at Versailles since 2008, more specifically in charge of the service New Media, Marketing and Partnerships. A graduate of Sciences Po Paris he previously worked at the Opera de Paris, the Centre Pompidou and Universal Music France, first as head of jazz and classical projects, then as head of online marketing for all labels in the group.

Troy Conrad Therrien is Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, New York. He is also an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where he co-founded the Architecture Online Lab and is an editor of the Applied Research Practices in Architecture Journal. @troytherrien

Murtaza Vali is a critic, curator, editor and Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, USA. He most recently curated ‘Geometries of Difference: New Approaches to Ornament and Abstraction’ at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz and ‘Accented’ at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah. @murtazavali

Visualizing Impact specialises in data visualisation on social issues. VI’s visual & tech tools have reached over two million people across four continents and in twelve languages. VI is the recipient of Deutsche Welle’s 2014 The Bobs award for Best Social Activism. Visualizing Palestine, a project of VI, has been featured in the Washington Post, Policy Mic, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and the Guardian. @ImpactVI


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.