Art Dubai Modern Talks is a series of conversations around different themes exploring Curating Narratives, Building Futures and Creating Value for Modern Art from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
Art Dubai Modern returns with a rigorous talks program featuring a diverse number of leading figures from across the globe within the discipline of modernist studies. The title of this year’s edition takes it’s cue from artist Anjolie Ela Menon, who when asked about her formative years in 1950s Mumbai responded: “I rejected everything that was going on… all that very pretty stuff that they were doing there, you know maidens with pots on their heads.”
Menon’s statement of aversion towards essentialist gender and geographical constraints sets the tone for this year’s highly anticipated program. It beckons us to consider acts of rejection as generative strategies of protest against, and rupture with skewed power structures. From museum practitioners and art historians, to private collectors, art dealers and independent curators and scholars, speakers will unpack, complicate, and challenge a number of narratives pertaining to the good, the bad and the (un)pretty mechanisms by which histories and collections of lesser-explored modernisms have been assembled and disseminated.
The title also playfully debunks the avenues by which the story of the so-called “periphery” continues to be reduced through words and displays. Isn’t the road to hell paved with every good intention? If the statement, “we have never been modern,” to cite Bruno Latour’s critique of the theory and application of modernism, can be applied within the context of the so called “West”, the 20 artists from the MENASA that are on view through solo presentations focused on specific periods in this year’s Modern section, provide a renewed perspective on the contradictions, antagonisms, accomplishments, as well as the commonalities of an intense period of rigorous negotiation and creation that is anything but monolithic. We have been pretty modern, after all.
On (Un) PRETTY Narratives
With the field still in a relatively nascent stage, how are narratives of modernism being developed and communicated? From itinerant exhibitions and permanent acquisitions, to private collections turning public and an increasing number of publications by independent scholars and researchers, who has the biggest impact? What happens when these diverse practices find themselves in a state of contradiction? Can they converge and still safeguard a plurality of voices?
A conversation moderated by Dr. Till Fellrath – Co-founder, Art Reoriented in Munich and New York with:
Dr. Doris Krystof – Chief Curator, Kunstsammlung K20/K21 in Düsseldorf
Basel Dalloul – Managing Director, The Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation in Beirut
Fatenn Mostafa-Kanafani – Founding Director, Art Talks and Independent Researcher in Cairo
Not All That Glitters Is BAD
Much has been said and written about the contested conflation between the private and public, commercial and not-for profit, and the layperson and the specialist. This overlap has at times been critical for the preservation and advancement of modern artistic legacies in places where the conventional cultural and academic infrastructures have been lacking. What are the pitfalls of such a marriage, or can a blurring of boundaries lead to the creation of more value?
A conversation moderated by Melissa Gronlund – Art Correspondent for the National in the UAE with:
Frank Kilbourn – Collector and Executive Chairperson, Strauss & Co. in Cape Town
Abraham Karabajakian – Co-founder, KA Art Collection in Beirut
Ashish Anand – Managing Director and CEO, DAG in Delhi, Mumbai and New York
GOOD Is A Matter of Perspective
Some recent scholarship has begun to propose a shift from the paradigms of Post-Colonialism and Saïdian Orientalism towards a Transmodern model of criticism. Instead of the polarizing “East” versus “West” model, recent publications and curatorial projects have been favoring an approach whereby the two can be reassessed as a continuum emanating from a complex network of formal and thematic affiliations rather than geographical divisions. Are we all in agreement? Does the more established model still hold, or is there merit in merging seemingly irreconcilable positions to portray a more compelling portrait of modernism’s complex facets?
A conversation moderated by Dr. Sam Bardaouil – Co-founder, Art Reoriented in Munich and New York with:
Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu – Professor of African and African Diaspora art history and theory at Princeton University
Dr. Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, Director General, The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit
Durjoy Rahman, Founder and Supporter, Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation