In January, Bidoun Projects launched a series of art-writing workshops in Dubai, focusing on developing critical debate around contemporary practices. The first lively, weekend-long workshop was attended by over fifty curators, journalists, arts administrators, architects, and students — plus the occasional banker and graffiti artist — and tutored by Hassan Khan, Kevin Mitchell, and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, while February’s session included a presentation by Shumon Basar. Workshops continue throughout the spring, in addition to one-on-one sessions with the tutors and ongoing exchanges via Facebook. The workshops are presented in partnership with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and held at Shelter, our home in Dubai.
Also at Shelter, the Portfolio Project — a rolling monthly showcase for upcoming photographers based in the UAE, curated by Alia Al-Sabi — continues with an exhibition by Sharjah-based Iraqi-Turkish artist Yasmeen Mohammed. Previous participants include Hind Mezaina, Mohamed Somji, and the duo Zeinab Hajian and Aisha Miyuki.
This issue of the magazine is being launched at Art Dubai, now in its fourth year. This year the fair invited Bidoun Projects to be its curatorial partner. We’ve programmed a series of noncommercial exhibitions, commissions, screenings, and educational events, including major new installations by Ebtisam Abdulaziz, and Vartan Avakian; a set of ice sculptures designed by Farhad Moshiri; and, for the third year running, an Art Park in the basement parking lot, full of videos, talks, and performances. We’ve also invited Sophia Al-Maria, Khalil Rabah, and Daniel Bozhkov to act as tour guides. Look out for Bozhkov’s contribution, The Fastest Guided Tour of Art Dubai: “a run through seven acres of creative production in forty-five minutes.” Bidoun Projects’ activities at the fair are kindly supported by the Emirates Foundation.
Also at Art Dubai, Bidoun celebrates the first anniversary of its ongoing collaboration with UbuWeb with screenings and discussions in the Art Park. Recent additions to the BubuWeb stream — accessible from ubu.com, but also from Bidoun’s redesigned and newly functional website, bidoun.com — include the ￼films of Hamlet Hovsepian and Sekai Senso Sengen (Declaration of World War), a joint film project of the Japanese Red Army Faction and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, produced in 1971 by RAF members Koji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi.
The Bidoun Library makes an appearance at Art Dubai in March and then travels on to 98 Weeks’ space in Beirut in April, to coincide with the Hay Festival, Beirut39, and Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works Forum. The library is presented in partnership with Abu Dhabi Art; new sections include a focus on the pioneering Iranian state-sponsored book-and-film agency for children, Kanoon.
Meanwhile, in Cairo, a major exhibition of works commissioned by Babak Radboy, overseen by Ayman Ramadan, and executed by an array of artists, hustlers, and auto mechanics (sometimes the same person), is on display at the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art. Forms of Compensation is a series of twenty-one reproductions of iconic modern and contemporary artworks, with an emphasis on sculptures, paintings, and prints by Arab and Iranian artists.
This winter also sees the publication of our second book with the Sharjah Art Foundation, the sequel to Provisions (March 2009), the companion to last year’s Sharjah Biennial 9. The second volume, again coedited by the biennial’s Lara Khaldi, is an innovative response to the “biennial experience”: visiting critics, curators, and artists contributed diaries from their time in Sharjah, while biennial participants sent us projects and interventions on paper that reflect on the UAE and their experiences.
Last, but by no means least, Bidoun celebrates the arrival of a new art director, Andy Pressman of the Brooklyn-based design studio Rumors.