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GLOBAL ART FORUM 2024


GLOBAL ART FORUM 17: “WHETHER OR NOT”

Now in its 17th year, Art Dubai’s flagship transdisciplinary summit, Global Art Forum, is entitled Whether or Not, and looks at the relationship between extreme weather and extreme change. This edition is organised by Commissioner Shumon Basar and Curator Nadine El-Khoury and will take place on 29 February and 1 March 2024.

Floods, droughts, storms, smog: the 21st century, climatically speaking, is increasingly Old Testament in nature. Extreme weather is no longer limited to “the developing world,” but is now happening everywhere. Meanwhile, the threat of extinction elicits urgent innovations — and imagination. 

Global Art Forum 17 will present the cultures, technologies, sciences and initiatives around extreme weather and extreme change with many of the world’s most compelling artists, architects, academics, curators, and thinkers.  

Speakers contributing to the forum include Director, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, Dr. Stephanie Rosenthal; Director AMO at Office of Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, Samir Bantal; Founder of Studio Anne Holtrop in Bahrain, Anne Holtrop; Artist and Researcher, Madrid, Gabriel Alonso; Kuwaiti Artist based in Berlin, Monira Al Qadiri; Filmmaker, Curator, and Academic, Dr. Nezar Andary; Istanbul based Curator, Çelenk Bafra; Researcher and Arts Practitioner, Nadia Christidi; Dubai based Artist and Writer, Dana Dawud; Writer, Editor and Academic Reema Salha Fadda; Artist and Researcher, Madrid, Asunción Molinos Gordo; Independent Curator, Oxford, Maya El Khalil; Art Critic and Researcher, Dubai, Nadine Khalil; Clinical Associate Professor of Anthropology, NYUAD, Munira Khayyat; Philosopher, Spain, Michael Marder; Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions and Programmes, Art Jameel, Dubai, Nora Razian, Editor-in-Chief, Real Review, London, Jack Self; Dubai based Urbanists, Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib; Artist, Berlin, Jakob Kudsk Steensen; Artist, Dubai, Isaac Sullivan, and UK based Artist – Writer duo, Y7



Highlight Sessions



GLOBAL ART FORUM 17: FULL PROGRAMME


ART DUBAI, AUDITORIUM, MINA A’SALAM


2:00-2:15pm

WHETHER OR NOT
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar and Global Art Forum Curator Nadine El-Khoury



2:15-2:35pm

WHETHER OR MYTH
PARABLE
Artist and Writer Dana Dawud
Multiple ancient civilisations scattered around the globe all possessed versions of “The Flood Myth.” A great deluge to wash away greater sins and start all over. Hardship, renewal, vengeance: scriptural texts and civilisational lore feature extreme weather as lead characters. Dana Dawud invokes some of the deep time tales of Noah’s Ark as foundational narrative woe and the symbolic realms they divined.



2:35-3:05pm

WHETHER OR COUNTRYSIDE
LECTURE
Director of AMO, Office for Metropolitan Architecture Samir Bantal
In 2020, AMO (OMA’s think-tank sibling), Rem Koolhaas and a group of researchers opened an exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum entitled “Countryside, The Future.” In this lecture, Samir Bantal draws out some of the consequential and reciprocal relationships between extreme weather and “the 98% of the Earth’s surface not occupied by cities.” The Countryside emerges as a real and imagined battleground throughout history and the present, where migration, technology, politics and life are subject to the vicissitudes of climatic and capitalistic change.



3:05-4:00pm

ON EXTREME WEATHERING
DISCUSSION
Architect Anne Holtrop and Urbanists Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib
Hosted by Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
Architecture, in its fundamental sense, has long been defined as shelter against the outside environment. But, what does architecture have to be when the outside becomes punishingly warm? Architect Anne Holtrop’s projects in Bahrain/The Gulf and his research studio at ETH Zurich investigate material responses to ever dryer, ever harsher environments. While Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib’s exhibition, “Hot Cities: Lessons from Arab Architecture,” looks at how inhabitants cope with the region’s harsh climate, combining vernacular and modern techniques.



4:00-4:15pm

BREAK



4:15-4:35pm

FROM ANCIENT EXTREMES TO ECOLOGICAL BEDOUINS, DESERTS AND ANIMALS 
POLEMIC
Scholar, Filmmaker and Researcher Dr. Nezar Andary
Dr. Nezar Andary attempts a political “spell of the sensuousness” on our mediations with ecological extremes. What extremes project violence, guilt and exile?   From Ibrahim al Koni’s novel, The Bleeding Stone, to echoes of deserts and nomads in global cinema we pursue and understand the construction of the ecological Bedouin, animals, and deserts. We question their relevance to our present and relate them to ancient texts and myths. The Myth of Gilgamesh, Hebrew Bible’s Exodus and Book of Deuteronomyand Ikhwan al Safa’s Animal Lawsuit against Humanity inform our relationships to the extremes also found in constructions of the ecological Bedouin, nomads, and the desert. How does the dance of the sacred and profane in the figure of the ecological bedouin appear in the egregious slow violences inflicted on our senses in the ages of genocide and ecocide?



4:35-5:20pm

WHETHER ANXIETIES AND ECOLOGIES OF WAR
DISCUSSION
Clinical Associate Professor of Anthropology, NYUAD Munira Khayyat and Writer, Editor and Academic Reema Salha Fadda
Hosted by Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
Ecocide is described as the “devastation and destruction of the environment to the detriment of life.” In Munira Khayyats book, “A Landscape of War,” she describes life along the southern border of Lebanon, where resistant ecologies thrive amid a terrain of perennial war and multispecies collaboration. And Reema Salha Fadda reflects upon the systematic ways in which the occupation of Palestine has entailed acts of calculated ecocide, including the lasting, toxic footprint of unprecedented levels of bombardment.  



5:20-5:40pm

WHETHER TO DRESS OR NOT
POLEMIC
Editor-in-Chief, Real Review Jack Self
Atheleisure, Cottage Core, Gorpcore, are but a few recent fashion trends that have stylised extreme performance wear into multi-billion dollar markets. Jack Self explores the sensual and semantic dimensions of clothing designed for our age of exponential weather-anxiety, where the eco-apocalypse is sold as an aesthetic problem as much as an existential one.



5:40-6:30pm

WEATHER FORMS
DISCUSSION
Artists Asunción Molinos Gordo and Monira Al Qadiri
Hosted by Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar and Global Art Forum Curator Nadine El-Khoury
The weather has been a perennial subject in art. Outside storms are also ready-made representations of inner emotional climates and forces. Art also helps us see the weather’s secret invisibility and its human-induced changes, either by design or collateral damage. Artists Asunción Molinos Gordo and Monira Al Qadiri present their research and projects that invoke weather’s sublime scale, impact and intensity. 



Throughout the day

WHETHER REPORTS
Artist-Writers Y7
Specially commissioned one-minute videos that bring together extreme weather fictions and generative AI techniques into a series of speculative forecast moods. 




ART DUBAI, MINA A’SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


2:00-2:15pm

WHETHER OR NOT
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar and Global Art Forum Curator Nadine El-Khoury



2:15-2:35pm

WEATHER AND ECO-ANXIETY
CONVERSATION
Philosopher Michael Marder
In their book “The Chernobyl Herbarium,” philosopher Michael Marder and visual artist Anaïs Tondeur thoughtfully explore the widespread impact of Chernobyl’s nuclear radiation using the concept of a herbarium. Through this interdisciplinary collaboration, which involves a delicate interplay of imagery and text, Marder and Tondeur present a nuanced portrayal of the hyperobject that is Chernobyl. In this conversation, Marder describes their more-than-human perspective, which recognises the trauma inflicted by the disaster as one of profound planetary magnitude.



2:35-3:05pm

POST-WEATHER
LECTURE
Artist, Researcher and Founder of the Institute for Postnatural Studies Gabriel Alonso
How can we understand the genealogies of the post-natural in contemporary terms, and what exactly constitutes the post-natural? Through a speculative journey around complex contemporary ecologies, Gabriel Alonso challenges the nature/culture divide entrenched in the Western concept of nature, which is deeply entwined with the foundations of modern capitalism and extractivism.



3:05-4:00pm

CURATING THE CULTURAL WEATHER
DISCUSSION
Director of the Guggenheim Abu-Dhabi Dr.Stephanie Rosenthal and Independent Curator Maya El Khalil
Hosted by Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar and Global Art Forum Curator Nadine El-Khoury
As extreme climate and weather events become more pronounced, questions arise about artists’ and art institutions’ responses to the climate crisis. What constraints do exhibition spaces face, especially when art converges with activism? In her digital project “Take Me to the River”, Maya El Khalil sheds light on significant legal cases and non-western cosmologies. Meanwhile, Dr.Stephanie Rosenthal’s seminal exhibition “Garden of Earthly Delights” at the Gropius Bau (Berlin) took the garden as a starting point and poetic form of expression to reflect upon the complexities of the present, marked by colonialism, migration and botany. 



4:00-4:15pm

BREAK



4:15-4:35pm

WHETHER REPORTS
CONVERSATION
Artist-Writers Y7 and Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar
Y7 create mesmerising audiovisual worlds using some of today’s latest AI tools — that invariably reflect on the ideologies behind the tech itself. In this conversation, Y7 talk about their special commission for Global Art Forum 17, entitled “Whether Reports,” and how speculations about weather and climate are synonymous with culture’s complex feelings towards the future, both near and far.



4:35-5:05pm

ARTIFICIAL WEATHERS
LECTURE
Researcher and Arts Practitioner Nadia Christidi with Global Art Forum Curator Nadine El-Khoury
Artificial rain, commonly referred to as cloud seeding, was first conducted in the UAE in 1982. However, this practice has global roots stretching back to the 1940s, an era troubled by hubristic technoscientific developments like atomic power and their potential apocalyptic implications. Nadia Christidi‘s publication, “Liquid Dreams,” delves into water imaginaries in the UAE, including a chapter dedicated to cloud seeding and weather modification, where she merges archival and historical research with speculative writing.



5:05-6:00pm

WORLD WEATHERS
DISCUSSION
Curator Çelenk Bafra and Artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen
Hosted by Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions and Programmes, Art Jameel Nora Razian
Established in the wake of the climate emergency, the World Weather Network comprises weather stations worldwide, created by 28 art agencies to encourage global observation and climate action. Çelenk Bafra describes the activities of an independent radio station and an NGO, Açık Radyo and SAHA, which transforms Istanbul’s historic Galata Tower into a conceptual weather station. Nora Razian presents Jameel Arts Centre’s station in the Arabian Gulf, located in Dubai, which focuses on atmospheric humidity through commissioned podcasts on related themes while providing water from air-to-water generators.  Meanwhile, the “Lichens Never Lie” project by the Nicoletta Fiorucci Foundation had artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen reflecting on weather and the notion of time. The project’s artist output presenting a durable micro-lichen from the Swiss alps, growing by a glacial tongue that has since collapsed and vanished – Steensen having digitised its details within his simulation piece, Tongues of Verglas (2022-23).



6:00-6:30pm

WHETHER OR OBJECTS IN THE ACT OF VANISHING
PERFORMANCE
Artist Isaac Sullivan and Art Critic and Researcher Nadine Khalil
Increased humidity is a function of a warming world. In this sonic essay, made in collaboration with a large language chatbot called Chyron, and originally conceived as a World Weather Network commission, Isaac Sullivan and Nadine Khalil reflect on museums as systems of extreme climate control. Clouds, heat, condensation, seepage, thresholds: a microclimate of words and sounds inspired by a number of contemporary artworks by Caline Aoun, Gala Porras-Kim, Gülşah Mursaloğlu, Harshini Karunaratne, and Mays Albaik.  



Throughout the day

WHETHER REPORTS
Artist-Writers Y7
Specially commissioned one-minute videos that bring together extreme weather fictions and generative AI techniques into a series of speculative forecast moods.



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.

CURATOR



Nadine El Khoury is a curator and researcher working at the intersection of art and ecology with a focus on the botanical realm. She is currently part of the curatorial team at Art Jameel, researching, developing and producing exhibitions, commissions and publications.




CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Gabriel Alonso is a visual artist and researcher investigating contemporary relations between fiction and materiality, the human and the artificial, and the natural and the cultural, whose work has been internationally exhibited and published. In 2020 he founded the Institute for Postnatural Studies, a centre for artistic experimentation to explore and problematize postnature as a framework for contemporary creation.


Dr. Nezar Andary‘s films have screened all over the world, included his last one award winning film, Unlocking Doors of CinemaI(2020). A professor of film and literature, he has been the artistic director of Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival and Sharjah’s House of Wisdom Performing Books season. He is the co-editor of a book series with Palgrave Macmillan entitled Focus on Arab Cinema.


Çelenk Bafra was the director of SAHA and SAHA Studio until Feb 2024. She was the curator and director of exhibitions at Istanbul Modern, for which she curated “Till It’s Gone”, an exhibition on ecology and sustainability. She’s the producer of an arts program on Açık Radio, advocating cultural rights and climate justice.


Samir Bantal is director of AMO, the architectural think-tank of OMA. Samir, together with Rem Koolhaas, was the co-curator of the 2020 Exhibition Countryside, the Future at the Guggenheim Museum that opens in Doha, Qatar in 2024. With research at its core, AMO’s work spans architecture, culture, media, and technology.


Nadia Christidi is an MIT PhD candidate in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society and arts practitioner. She researches how cities in drylands, including Dubai, are planning for the future of water as the climate changes. Nadia received the Art Jameel Arts Research and Writing Commission and was a TBA-21 Academy Ocean Fellow.


Dana Dawud (b. 1992) is a Dubai-based artist and writer, Dana’s research and practice interrogate the intersections between the digital and the real.


Reema Salha Fadda is a writer, editor and academic whose work engages with the political economy of cultural production, focusing mainly on Palestine and the broader region. Her writing has been commissioned by leading international publications and she has programmed cultural events across historic Palestine, Cairo, Amman and London. Shed developed a lecture series on Arab cultural politics at the University of Oxford and is currently a lecturer on the MFA programme at NYU, Abu Dhabi.


Asunción Molinos Gordo is a research-based artist strongly influenced by disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. The main focus of her work is contemporary peasantry. She won the Sharjah Biennial Prize 2015 with her project WAM (World Agriculture Museum) and represented Spain official section at the 13th Havana Biennial 2019.


Anne Holtrop (1977 / Netherlands) is an architect based in Muharraq (BH) and Amsterdam (NL). Key projects from his studio are the Museum Fort Vechten, the National Pavilion of Bahrain, the Green Corner Building, and the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh. He is a professor at the ETH in Zurich.


Maya El Khalil’s curatorial work addresses the intersection of art, community-driven practice and cultural exchange, with particular expertise in the contemporary artistic context of the Gulf. The environmental and climate emergency has been the focus of her most recent exhibitions and multidisciplinary projects, such as the ongoing digital platform Take Me to the River, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut and the Prince Claus Fund.
El Khalil serves on the international advisory board of the Prince Claus. She was founding director of Athr Gallery (2009-2016).


Nadine Khalil is an independent researcher and curator. Her practice looks at intersections between performativity and technology. She is currently working on a curatorial series of artist-centered narratives around machinic embodiment and radical performance. She is the former editor of Dubai-based contemporary art magazine, Canvas (2017-2020) and Beirut-based culture magazines A mag and Bespoke (2010-2016).


Munira Khayyat teaches anthropology at New York University Abu Dhabi. She is the author of A Landscape of War: Ecologies of Resistance and Survival in South Lebanon (University of California Press 2022). She has taught at the American University in Cairo and the American University of Beirut and was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.


Michael Marder is IKERBASQUE Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. His writings span the fields of ecological theory, phenomenology, and political thought. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and monographs, including Plant-Thinking (2013); The Philosopher’s Plant (2014); Dust (2016), Energy Dreams (2017), Heidegger (2018), Political Categories (2019), Pyropolitics (2015, 2020); Dump Philosophy (2020); Hegel’s Energy (2021); Green Mass (2021), Philosophy for Passengers (2022), The Phoenix Complex (2023), Time Is a Plant (2023), and, with Edward S. Casey, The Place of Plants (2023). For more information, consult his website michaelmarder.org.


Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983, Dakar, Senegal) is a Kuwaiti artist educated in Japan and now living in Berlin. Spanning sculpture, installation, film and performance, Al Qadiri’s multifaceted practice is mainly based on research into the cultural histories of the Gulf region. Her interpretation of the Gulf’s “petro-culture” is manifested through speculative scenarios that take inspiration from science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices and pop culture, resulting in uncanny and subversive works.


Nora Razian is Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions and Programmes at Art Jameel, where she oversees the exhibitions across both Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai and Hayy Jameel in Jeddah, as well as public programmes. Previous roles include Head of Programmes and Exhibitions at the Sursock Museum, Beirut, and Curator of Public Programmes at Tate, London.

She is the commissioner and editor of several publications including Monumental Shadows (2023) a multi-contributor volume exploring the politics of heritage and museology today, and Pacita Abad: I Thought the Streets Were Paved with Gold marking the artist’s exhibition at the Jameel Arts Centre. She is co-editor of Elements for a World (Sursock Museum, Beirut), a series of five publications featuring specially commissioned texts and visual contributions responding to the current climate crisis through scientific, poetic, political, and speculative contributions, and The Future Citizen Guide (Tate, London), a series of contributions by artist and curators exploring changing notions of citizenship.

She has served as a curatorial advisor for the 59th Venice Biennial (2020-2022) and sits on several selection committees.


Dr. Stephanie Rosenthal serves as Director of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project, appointed by Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. From 2018 to 2022, she was Director at the Gropius Bau in Berlin, notably the first woman to direct the institution. Throughout her career Rosenthal held key roles, such as Chief Curator at the Hayward Gallery in London and Curator at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. With a specific interest on performative practices, she organized influential exhibitions like Move: Choreographing You (2010), Art of Change: New Directions from China (2012), and Garden of Earthly Delights (2019).


Jack Self (1987) is an architect and writer based in London. He is Director of the REAL foundation and Editor-in-Chief of the Real Review. In 2016, Jack curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. He is Master of Diploma Unit Six at the Architectural Association. Jack’s architectural design focuses on alternative models of ownership, contemporary forms of labour, and the formation of socio-economic power relationships in space.


Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib are both urbanists and researchers. For more than a decade, their magazine, Brownbook, has explored cities across the Middle East and North Africa, with more than a million copies in circulation. They were nominated for the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture in 2010 and 2018. Additionally, they edited and wrote the publication “Anatomy of Sabkhas” for the National Pavilion UAE, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2021. They continue to lecture and teach at the Architectural Association, New York University, Zayed University, and Boisbuchet. They are graduates of the University of Oxford, specializing in urbanism.


Jakob Kudsk Steensen is an artist working with environmental storytelling through simulation technology and large-scale installations. He creates poetic interpretations of overlooked natural phenomena in video, photo, audio, game and virtual reality formats. His projects use intuitions, memories and imaginations to form experiences allowing deeper connection with real-world environments.


Isaac Sullivan’s research interests include artificial intelligence, sound art, and the problematics of space and place. Exploring ecological thought and emerging technologies, his work revisits cybernetics and engages AI’s impact on images, data, territory, and observation through video, performance, and installation. He is co-founder of the artist collective, Cybernetic Listening.


Y7 are a UK-based post-disciplinary duo specialising in the use of AI for A/V works alongside a written practice of cultural criticism. They collaborated with Shumon Basar on his Lorecore Trilogy and have written for Flash Art & 032c. Their latest film Report 5923 was made using generative AI tools.


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.