All the world’s a palette as Art Dubai celebrates 10 years

The year 2006 is memorable for many reasons. For example, that was when Friday and Saturday were officially declared the weekend in the UAE, Wikipedia published its one-millionth article, the popular Arabic television series Bab Al Hara debuted on MBC, 50 floors of the Burj Khalifa had been built, Lebanese pop singer Elissa released her […]

The year 2006 is memorable for many reasons. For example, that was when Friday and Saturday were officially declared the weekend in the UAE, Wikipedia published its one-millionth article, the popular Arabic television series Bab Al Hara debuted on MBC, 50 floors of the Burj Khalifa had been built, Lebanese pop singer Elissa released her song Bastanak, Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream was recovered two years after it was stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo – and the Gulf Art Fair, now known as Art Dubai, was born.

These events and others from the same year are referenced in a new visual campaign for Art Dubai, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary when it returns from March 16 to 19.

“We were mindful that for us in Dubai it feels like a milestone, but we didn’t want to be too nostalgic,” says Antonia Carver, Art Dubai’s fair director. “Nor were we after something that was too parochial. We wanted to trigger that memory and that history of what has happened in the past 10 years.”

A third of the campaign’s images relate to the region, while the rest are international. This approach, says Carver, entailed an “organic” process.

Though the fair’s visual campaign adopts a different visual style each year, the common denominator is its logo – signature bars that spell out Art Dubai in Arabic, referencing booths, walls and images.

For the past five years, Art Dubai has worked with Kemistry Design, headed by Hani Charaf, and it was through conversations between teams from both organisations that the idea for this year’s designs grew. The Dubai design studio’s portfolio also includes clients such as the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Saudi Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale and several art galleries.

“Ten years is not that long in ‘fair years’, so we tried to mark the date by linking it to many things that happened in the decade,” says Charaf. “These things can be quite substantial focal points, and others can be quite simple.”

The teams began by creating lists of events and breaking them up according to themes. Some of the visuals were illustrated, others were gathered from stock photography, sourced from individuals or bought from archives.

Some events feature more than once, some do not have a corresponding image, such as the one marking the UAE weekend.

The designs that made the final cut were voted on “democratically” says Charaf.

Each image is treated differently; some are black and white, some are kitschy illustrations, others are graphic-led.

“Some events aren’t particularly special but are a fact, such as Burj Khalifa then being at 50 floors,” says Charaf. “I think this campaign says Art Dubai is not a traditional fair and is one that doesn’t mind taking risks.”

In the end, the experience was a group effort and a study of the year the even was born – a recap of the events of 2006, almost akin to those familiar year-end supplements that look back at a year that has passed.

• For more details, visit www.artdubai.ae

artslife@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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