20 March, 2023
Dubai Culture commissions AlSerkal Arts Foundation to position Dubai as a city of public art
A collaboration is announced between Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and Alserkal Arts Foundation to deliver a series of three Dubai Public Art projects to bring inspiring and thoughtful art to the city’s public realm, including the Al Quoz Creative Zone, Shindagha Historic District, and Hatta.
Following through on a joint commitment to support the development of artistic and curatorial excellence amongst UAE-based practitioners, each of the three public commissions will be led by an appointed curator. The first of these commissions will launch with an open call for Al Shindagha Historic District, where Munira Al Sayegh has been appointed curator to realise a for something process-driven and participatory commission. In Al Quoz, Sumayya Vally will work with Alserkal Arts Foundation to consider the area’s industrial past and creative future, keeping in mind all those who use the space in innovative ways. In Hatta, Faysal Tabbarah will respond to the landscape itself, seeking interventions that respect the environment and transform relationships to it.
Dubai Public Art is a new programme for the city launched recently by Dubai Culture. The commissioning, curating, and activation of these three public works across Dubai is intended to create distinctive artistic interventions that will engage with the city and its individual neighbourhoods, creating meaningful opportunities for local artistic practice to thrive.
Dr. Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, affirmed that public art is an essential element in enhancing the strength of cultural tourism in Dubai. It contributes to enriching the emirate's creative identity. He said: "Dubai Culture, in cooperation with its partners, continues the process of activating the Dubai Public Art strategy, and motivating members of the creative community to support the cultural and creative industries in the emirate, and to enable talent to benefit from Dubai’s deep cultural roots to express their innovative artistic visions.” At the same time, Bin Kharbash expressed his happiness in cooperating with Alserkal Arts Foundation to launch the open call. He continued: "Al Shindagha Neighbourhood is one of the most prominent historical areas of Dubai, and is considered a witness to the stages of the establishment and development of the emirate, and Alserkal Arts Foundation’s decision to select it to be part of the map of the distribution of Dubai Public Art reflects its importance and place in community memory.”
Reinforcing the importance of public art in the social evolution of cities, Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director of Alserkal Initiatives, said: “Alserkal Arts Foundations’ ethos is grounded in shared authority and collective learning where open dialogue and long-term cooperation are foregrounded in our partnerships. Participatory art can help re-appraise current subjects and invite critical engagement, which creates an empowering space that can lead to social transformation. We look forward to working with Dubai Culture across the city to galvanise communities in Al Quoz, Shindagha and Hatta—some of Dubai’s most historically-bound locations.”
Munira Al Sayegh said, “Public art remains one of the most powerful forms of art as it becomes directly accessible to any public that is within its reach. Dubai Culture's investment in this domain is important for the community that surrounds it, and for the generous narratives we are collectively building for our shared future.”
Al Sayegh calls for artists, designers and architects to propose a project that engages deeply with the multiple histories and temporalities of the neighbourhoods around Dubai Creek. This project, titled ‘Lamma | Coming Together’ is designed to be programme led, inviting artists to propose ideas rooted in public participation and engage visitors, those who live and work in the area, or those who have a relationship to the neighbourhood, to join in, contribute and help determine the final outcome. This public art commission presents a unique opportunity for artists, designers and architects to collaborate with an established, locally based curator in order to create an understanding of the impact and legacy of public art and the potential for meaningful social engagement in an urban heritage and museum context.
Dubai Public Art is a multi-year initiative, led by Dubai Culture, that enables the creation and installation of public art by UAE-based artists. Alserkal Arts Foundation is a curatorial partner, working alongside Akaas Visual Arts, Art Dubai, Art Jameel, and Tashkeel to commission and curate a series of site-specific art installations throughout the emirate.
UAE-based practitioners are invited to submit proposals via an Open Call process. From these submissions, three proposals will be shortlisted by a selection committee, including the curator and experienced arts professionals. The final proposals will be shared with Dubai Culture to determine the finalist, who will then be invited to work closely with the curator to develop and deliver the programme and project. More information and the application are available online.
Programming could constitute workshops, talks, focus and study groups, oral history projects, walks or boat rides; we encourage applicants to be innovative with formats to engage with the context of Al Shindagha Museum and to inspire the local public to participate. The programme will need to be delivered in the summer of 2023, and the final project will be closely developed in consultation with relevant teams at Alserkal Arts Foundation and Dubai Culture and launched in the fall of 2023.
The final artwork, which will remain at Shindagha at a prominent location right by the Creek, will become both a trace of the project and an invitation for visitors to learn more about those who have passed through here before them.
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