Curated by Munira Al Sayegh, UAE NOW was a new segment of Art Dubai 2019 which explored the country’s independent local artist-run platforms. These collectives and community groups offer a crucial counterpoint to the public and commercial sectors and add an essential layer to the local contemporary art ecosystem. UAE NOW highlighted the depth in these organisations and their place in the evolving landscape, and brought to the fore the important contribution of grassroots platforms and the underground in creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements.
The programming for this segment was one that reflected the organic nature of these self-organised platforms. Bait15 acted as the nucleus for the programme to encourage an open dialogue on fundamental topics within the art scene and its practice in the UAE, such as: critical discourse within an artist’s studio practice, surviving within the booming art scene, understanding reoccurring trends in the region, the importance of the role of a collector at the start of a new art movement, and exploring the role of the public realm as artists.
Within UAE NOW, a clear network was built through the participating groups; one that is reliant on collaboration, conversation and community. The participants existed individually within their allocated spaces within the segment but came together to activate the overall space for a programme that included workshops, talks and other forms of programming.