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The 2023 Global Art Forum was 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. The 2023 edition of the Forum was 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 included artists Refik Anadol, Ahaad Alamoudi, Rami Farook, Shuang Li, Sissel Tolaas; curators Hans Ulrich Obrist, Clara Peh, Chris Fussner, Maria-Paula Fernadez, Lucia Pietroiusti; Lukas Amacher, Head of Art, Dialectic and 1of1 works; Sumayya Vally, Principal 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, Brendan McGetrick, Creative Director of Dubai’s Museum of the Future; New Models’ Caroline Busta and Lil Internet; writers Brian Droitcour, Anna Bernice Delos Reyes, Nadine Khalil, Skye Arundati Thomas and Tiffany Godoy, Vogue Japan.

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

Highlight Sessions




By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar 


Curator 1of1 Collection Lukas Amacher, Head of Programs at Fondazione Prada Chiara Costa, Creative Director of Museum of the Future Brendan McGetrick. Hosted by Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
Change keeps changing, but do institutions manage to change at the necessary pace? Should they even try? The pandemic induced sudden pressure and forced museums to pivot to digital content production, much of which is here to stay. Now, new media such as NFTs challenge legacy institutions’ capacity to reeducate themselves. What are our expectations of institutions to log the quickening past and incubate what is to come? We heard from three very different kinds of institutions: 1of1.works (Zug/online), the Fondazione Prada (Milan/Venice) and the Museum of the Future (Dubai).


Curator and Founder of General Ecology, Serpentine Galleries Lucia Pietroiusti
Climate crisis. Climate grief. Climate justice. The language to describe our inner and outer relationship to ecology has become more advanced the more we feel the effects of extreme climate. Lucia Pietroiusti talked about art that talks about the environment, and our relationship to a future increasingly stamped with expiry dates.


Artist-Producer-Curator, Rami Farook and Communications and Research Specialist, Co-Founder, Sa Tahanan Co and Art curator Anna Bernice Delos Reyes
Dubai is famously future obsessed. But in the last few years, it has managed to shape perception towards a stable present that’s in contrast to a world of increasing uncertainty. Anna Bernice Delos Reyes interviewed one of Dubai’s most consistent cultural enablers, Rami Farook, whose many professional lives reflect the many cycles of the city.


Editor in Chief, Outland, Brian Droitcour and Co-founder, JPG.space Maria-Paula Fernandez
Hosted by Curator 1of1 Collection Lukas Amacher
What are the latest forces shaping digital art, NFT innovation, and crypto-communities? Brian Droitcour and Maria-Paula Fernandez shared stories about their practices in the worlds of Web3 writing, publishing, curating, and protocol-design.


Artist Refik Anadol and Smell Researcher/Artist Sissel Tolaas
Hosted by Artistic Director, the Serpentine Hans Ulrich Obrist and Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
The clear relationship between the past, present and future feels like it’s in a process of redefinition once again. Refik Anadol’s acclaimed work uses vast data sets and artificial intelligence to paint computational pictures both familiar and uncanny. While Sissel Tolaas investigates the non-visible realm of smell, scientifically, culturally and politically. If our senses are our interfaces with the world, what senses are we losing and gaining in these digitally determined times? These diverse panelists discussed their predictions for the digital future.



By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar


Head of Editorial Content, VOGUE JAPAN Tiffany Godoy and Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
Because of its reach, fashion is said to not only express the present moment but actually embody it. Tiffany Godoy shared her uniquely informed insights into fashion’s next seismic evolutions, through the prisms of media, technology and markets.


CEO and Co-Founder of TRLab Audrey Ou and Curator and Founder of NFT Asia Clara Peh
Hosted by Founder of Tropical Futures Institutes Chris Fussner
What are the latest forces shaping digital art and NFT innovation? Audrey Ou and Clara Peh shared stories with Chris Fussner from the frontline of Web3 cultural production and communities, and delved into Art Dubai Digital’s participants, projects and initiatives.


Critic and Co-Founder of New Models Caroline Busta and Co-Founder of New Models, Director and Music Producer Lil Internet
What could possibly come after social media: Recommendation media? Community-as-media? Web3 decentralised anti-social media? New Models charted the contours of the media-maximalist 2010s — a decade of endless podcasts, streams and sensational takes — in order to point us to where the rest of the 2020s could venture next.


Artist Ahaad Alamoudi and artist Shuang Li
Hosted by Art Critic and Researcher Nadine Khalil
What is the relationship between identity and heritage? Does technology elicit new narratives of the self and of the nation state? What is the resolution of truth? Ahaad Alamoudi and Shuang Li are two of today’s most exciting young artists. They weave novel, witty narratives based around their cultures — Saudi Arabian and Chinese, respectively — articulated in the native languages of online characters.


Writer and Editor, The White Review, Skye Arundhati Thomas, Principal of Counterspace, Professor of Practice, UCL and Artistic Director of Islamic Arts Biennale Sumayya Vally
Hosted by Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
As the tectonic plates of globalisation shift again, what can we predict about the present from Asia and Africa’s perspectives? In this discussion with Goa-based Skye Arundathi Thomas and Johannasburg/London-based Sumayya Vally, place was presented as a source of political and creative potential that constantly renews itself.


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.


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.


Ahaad Alamoudi (b.1991, Jeddah, KSA) raised between England and Saudi Arabia, lives and works in Jeddah. In her research about Saudi’s reforming ethnography, Ahaad’s photography, video and print installations aim at reinterpreting historical renditions of a reforming culture. She graduated from Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah with a BA in Visual Communication in 2014 and graduated with an MA in Print in 2017 and is currently pursuing her PhD degree from the Royal College of Art.

Lukas Amacher As the Curator and Managing Director of the 1of1 collection, Lukas Amacher runs one of the premier NFT collections in the world, focussing exclusively on digital art. The 1of1 collection and some of its works have recently been involved in projects at Castello di Rivoli in Italy, the MoMA in New York or M+ in Hong Kong.

Caroline Busta and Lil Internet are co-founders of New Models, a media platform and community addressing the emergent effects of networked technology on culture. Busta was previously EIC of Texte zur Kunst (2014-17) and an Assoc. Editor of Artforum (2008-14). Lil Internet has directed music videos for Beyoncé, Diplo, and Iggy Azalea; and has produced tracks for Azealia Banks. Their writing appears in recent issues of Artforum, Document, and Kaleidoscope.

Chiara Costa is an art historian and researcher, and since 2019 she is Head of Programs at Fondazione Prada in Milan and Venice. She previously collaborated with institutions, festivals, exhibition spaces and magazines such as La Biennale di Venezia, Manifesta, Istituto Svizzero, ICA Milano, Kaleidoscope, Mousse and Nero.

Anna Bernice delos Reyes is a curator, writer, and communications specialist based between Berlin and Dubai. She co-founded the art collective Sa Tahanan Co., platforming Filipino creatives in the Gulf. In Berlin, she works at Send/Receive, a PR and communications research agency specializing in art, architecture, design, and technology.

Brian Droitcour is a critic, editor, and curator. From 2014 to 2021 he worked at Art in America magazine, where he organized special issues on topics including generative art and immersive art. Since 2021 he has edited Outland, an online magazine about digital art and NFTs.

Rami Farook, since 2002, has been creating, curating, publishing, collaborating, supporting, and representing. Selected projects include Traffic, The Farook Collection, The Farook Foundation, Satellite, general.3am, maisan15 & Farook Zanzibar.

María Paula Fernandez comes from Argentina, is the co-founder at jpg.space, and the Department of Decentralization. She has been working in web3 since 2017. She’s worked or consulted for several of the most prominent blockchain projects, and in 2018 founded the Department of Decentralization, hosting web3 hackathons, and researching, publishing and curating at the intersection of art and technology. In 2021, she co-founded jpg.space, a protocol that focuses on on-chain NFT curation.

Chris Fussner, is a design strategist, cultural laborer and founder of Tropical Futures Institute rooted in Cebu, Philippines. Chris studied Design Strategy and Research at Parsons School of Design and is currently based in Milan/Discord. He is interested in innovation cycles, gaming, collective intelligence and a class at Parsons known as ‘post planetary design’ inspired him into the space of cryptocurrency and NFTs. He explores the intersections of art and technology. A founding curator at Art Dubai’s first Digital section, Chris will take up a full-time position as Cultural Growth Lead at People Supported Intelligence in February 2023.

Tiffany Godoy is a journalist, editor, consultant, video and podcast creator that works at the intersection of fashion, art, and technology. Recognized as a global expert on streetwear and culture, she is the author of Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion–Tokyo (Chronicle, 2008); Japanese Goth (Rizzoli, 2009); as well as A History of Contemporary Japanese Fashion, forthcoming from Thames & Hudson in 2023.

Nadine Khalil is an independent arts writer, editor and researcher. She is currently researching the body as an expanded site of performance, labour and resistance in the Gulf region. She is the former editor of Dubai-based contemporary art magazine, Canvas (2017-2020) and Beirut-based urban culture magazines A mag and Bespoke (2010-2016).

Shuang Li’s (b. 1990) practice explores globalized communication systems. Her work has been part of numerous institutional exhibitions, including the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong, the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva, Mao Jihong Arts Foundation in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the 59th Biennale di Venezia.

Brendan McGetrick is the Creative Director of Museum of the Future in Dubai. Previously, he was founding director of Global Grad Show, an annual exhibition of graduate projects from design and technology schools around the world. In 2014, he curated Fair Enough in the Russian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is Artistic Director of the Serpentine, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Since his first show “World Soup” (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 250 shows. Obrist’s recent publications include A Brief History of Curating, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks with Rem Koolhaas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating But Were Afraid to Ask, Do It: The Compendium, Think Like Clouds, Ai Weiwei Speaks, Sharp Tongues – Loose Lips – Open Eyes –  Ears to the Ground, along with new volumes of his Conversation Series.

Audrey Ou is CEO and Co-Founder of TRLab, a curated global platform that fuses NFT technology with fine art expertise. TRLab is on a mission to onboard the next generation of art enthusiasts into the global collecting community through Web3 innovations. Her background in fine art bridges Eastern and Western cultures, and she has been recognized as a rising talent by Apollo Magazine, Tatler Asia, and  Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30.

Clara Peh is a curator and arts writer from Singapore. Her practice centres around the intersections of art, money, and emerging technologies. She is the founder of NFT Asia, a digital artist collective. She is also the curator for Art Dubai 2023 Digital section.

Lucia Pietroiusti, a curator, works at the intersection of art, ecology and systems. She is the founder of General Ecology at Serpentine, London, and the curator of Sun & Sea (Lithuanian Pavilion, 2019 Venice Biennale), 8th Biennale Gherdeïna and The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish (both with Filipa Ramos).

Skye Arundhati Thomas is a writer and editor based in Goa. They write for The London Review of Books, artforum, frieze and others.They are co-editor of The White Review. Their first book Remember the Details, on viral images, courtrooms, and a brief history of a protest movement, is out now with Floating Opera Press.

Sissel Tolaas has been working, researching and experimenting intensively with the topic of smell since 1990. She is a pioneer and unique in her approach to smells. She has developed a wide range of revolutionary projects worldwide with smells based upon her own knowledge – forensic chemistry, chemical communication, sensory ecology, linguistics, and the visual art. Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin in January 2004, supported by IFF Inc.

Sumayya Vally has been Selected by the World Economic Forum to be one of its Young Global Leaders and TIME100 Next honoree, named as a leader who will shape the future of architectural practice and canon. In 2019, Counterspace was invited to design the 20th Serpentine Pavilion in London, making Vally the youngest architect ever to win this internationally renowned commission. Artistic Director of the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale, appointed by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, currently on and runs till April 23.