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GLOBAL ART FORUM 16: “PREDICTING THE PRESENT”




The 2023 Global Art Forum is entitled “Predicting the Present” and asks, if it’s the end of history and the end of the future, what happens next?

Our news feeds are stranger than science fiction. Change keeps changing. Increasingly it feels as though hope is today’s scarcest resource. This edition of the Forum is interested in navigation tools for our uncertain times. Stories, experiments and speculations about culture, innovation and society point will point towards new sources of optimism. While Dubai — a future-facing city of restless innovation — is a vivid backdrop and inspiration to “Predicting the Present.”

Speakers will include Lukas Amacher, Head of Art, Dialectic and 1of1 works; Sumayya Vally, Principle of Counterspace, Architect of the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion and Curator of the 1st Islamic Biennale in Jeddah; Chiara Costa, Head of Programmes at Fondazione Prada and Brendan McGetrick, Creative Director of Dubai’s Museum of the Future.

Global Art Forum will be held on the 3rd and 4th of March, 2023 at Art Dubai.

Full programme to be announced soon.




ART DUBAI, MINA A’SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


6:30-7:15pm

THIS IS DIGITAL HISTORY
DIALOGUE
Philanthropist and Collector Guy Ullens and Chief Curator, Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation Jérôme Neutres
Starting with Chinese scroll paintings from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, Guy and Myriam’s adventures in collecting and philanthropy have spanned several decades and continents. Having founded the influential Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, in 2007, more recently, the Swiss based Fondation Guy and Myriam Ullens has started a new chapter collecting historically significant computing and digital art from the 1960s till today, with over a hundred works already in place.




7:15-8:00pm

THIS IS THE NOW
DIALOGUE
Founder of Dialectic Ryan Zurrer and Art Journalist Judith Benhamou-Huet
In November 2021, it was revealed by Christie’s that Beeple’s physical and digital work, a two meter tall LED screen sculpture of an astronaut strolling through a dystopian landscape, had been sold to Swiss venture capitalist Ryan Zurrer for some $29 million. It marked yet another landmark in the recent history of digital, blockchain oriented art. In this dialogue, Zurrer chartered his journey from crypto investment and entrepreneurship to building an art collection, and why he has become such a vocal enthusiast for NFT art.




ART DUBAI, MINA A’SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


2:30-2:45pm

THIS IS THE PICTURE
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar




2:45-3:45pm

IS THIS AN ESCAPE 
DISCUSSION
Artists Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst. Hosted by Shumon Basar
Machine learning, audio deepfakes, Web3 powered artistic autonomy. Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst wield diverse technological and discursive tools. Their work encompasses electronic music, generative animated NFTs, a Zeitgeist podcast (Interdependence), and now, a new collaborative, decentralized media organization with like-minded creators (Channel). All of which garnered their inclusion in this year’s ArtReview Power 100, where they were described as “indispensable guides to our digital future.”




3:45-4:00pm

THIS IS DEFIWGMINFTRSIFLIP
INTERLUDE
Art Journalist and Curator Dorian Batycka
To the uninitiated, the world of cypto/blockchain/NFTism is a disorienting deluge of incomprehensible terms and acronyms. To the initiated, this babel is a badge of belonging. Dorian Batycka presented a wry, abridged glossary — and what this new language tells us about the culture around these new technologies.




4:00-4:30pm

THESE ARE ECTOGAMES 
LECTURE
Independent Critic, Curator, Design Strategist Kevin Buist
Ectogames are NFT projects that offer elements of games but lack the organizing form of a game. Kevin Buist — who invented the term — explained this inverted logic, and what their unstructured play reveals about the potential next relationships between art and games using blockchain technologies.




4:30-5:30pm

THIS IS THE WAY (PART 1)
DISCUSSION
CyberBaat, Morrow collective and NFT Asia.
Hosted by  Shumon Basar
Three collectives from the new Art Dubai Digital section shared their journeys in building NFT platforms, audiences and communities, across the Global South.





ART DUBAI, MINA A’SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


2:30-2:45pm

THIS IS THE PICTURE
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar




2:45-3:45pm

THIS IS THE WAY (PART 2)
DISCUSSION
Fingerprints DAO, GAZELL.iO and Product Manager (NFTs) at Nansen.ai Paul Harwood
Hosted by  Shumon Basar
The second session featured some of today’s most innovative blockchain first entities, and their work framing digital practices and products.




3:45-4:00pm

THEY DON’T KNOW THIS IS A MEME
INTERLUDE
Art Journalist and Curator Dorian Batycka
Over the last year, we have seen the tumultuous arrival of the crypto-memeconomy. Equally, the simplest caricature of NFT art comes in the meme-friendly form of dogs, apes, punks and low-res rocks. Are memes the civilization we deserve, or a curse we have to bear? Dorian Batycka analyzed the cultural logic of meme capitalism: pamp, damp, rinse and repeat.




4:00-4:40pm

AM I THE METAVERSE
DISCUSSION
Academic Daniel Felstead and Writer and Researcher Ruba Al Sweel. Hosted by  Shumon Basar
If Second Life is now First Life, what isn’t the metaverse anymore? Daniel Felstead presented the hyped promises and painful realities of this corporate-led reality-reboot, where Web2.0 and Web3.0 vye for credibility and domination. And Ruba Al Sweel described recent developments in regional artists’ digital aesthetics, and whether the “Continental Vibe” is the inevitable look of our metaverses to come.




4:40-5:00pm

THIS IS NEPENTHE
PRESENTATION
Simulation Artist Lawrence Lek
We traveled into Lawrence Lek’s latest virtual world, Nepenthe, named after a fictional medicine from Greek mythology that made you forget. Explored themes of memory and site-specific architecture, gaming and healing, Nepenthe — and its NFT derivatives, on show at Art Dubai Digital — drew on speculative links between mental health and simulation.




5:00-5:30pm

THIS IS THE CRYPTO ZONE 
FIRESIDE CHAT
Founder and CEO of Sheesha Finance Saeed Al Darmaki 
For several years, Dubai and the UAE have explored ways of nurturing one of the most forward looking crypto and blockchain driven ecologies. In this conversation, Saeed Al Darkmarki outlined some of the notable public and private sector initiatives in this space, including the recently announced Dubai World Trade Centre crypto zone.




COMMISSIONER



Shumon Basar is a writer, editor and curator. He is author of the books The Extreme Self: Age of You and The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, both with Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Together, they co-curated the large-scale exhibition Age of You at MOCA Toronto and Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai. In addition to being Commissioner of Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum since 2011, Basar has also been a member of Fondazione Prada’s “Thought Council;” Chief Narrative Officer at Zien; a curator at Fórum do Futuro and at Art Jameel; and has editorial roles at the magazines TANK, Bidoun, 032c and Flash Art.


ABOUT THE GLOBAL ART FORUM



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. The Forum has been invited to present special editions at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; and the ArtScience Museum, Singapore.