Bahrain: Under the patronage of HRH Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the third edition of Art Bahrain Across Borders (ArtBAB) will open doors tomorrow. An exciting exposure to art from around the world as well as a powerful and engaging ‘conversation’ programme marks this edition of the ArtBAB flagship fair that has put contemporary Bahraini art in the global eye.
Visitors can expect to absorb and delight in the collections from 15 galleries from around the world and 13 independent artists from 11 countries. In addition, there will be a focus on 27 Bahraini artists, 6 Emerging Artists as well as a tribute to two Bahraini Masters, Rashid Al Oraifi and Ghassan Muhsin.
The contemporary art fair will be open to the public from March 15 to 18 and entry to the exhibition and the associate programmes of talks and interactive installations is free for all.
“We believe that each fair serves to engage art-lovers, artists and collectors in a journey of discovery and knowledge. Thus, the theme for this year’s ARTBAB is Collaboration and Education,” said ArtBAB Fair and Programme Director, Kaneka Subberwal, “With galleries, artists and buyers coming together, our mission is to help to articulate this knowledge at all levels: to the buyers about what kind of art is available, to the artists about who are the potential buyers and investors. We are bringing in different elements of art education – through Conversations at ArtBAB, Kids at ArtBAB and the special performances – as well as different perspectives of art into the fair this year.”
Talks Room spotlight
This year, the Conversations@ArtBAB programme is an exciting and thought-provoking grid of talks, discussions and interactive sessions led by artists whose work and talent represents the cutting-edge of contemporary art movement. Spread over two afternoons (March 15-16, 2018), the Talks Room shall begin with a talk by Amal Khalaf on the topic ‘What is an Art School?’. Amal is Projects Curator at London’s famous Serpentine Gallery and Commissioning Editor (Projects) at Ibraaz. She will also moderate a panel discussion on alternative education models; this session shall also feature talks by Valeria Mariani of London’s Crossway Foundation and Berit Schkuk of MASS (presence Alexandria and Berlin).
With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia opening up dramatically on the cultural front, all eyes and ears will be on the session on ‘Curatorial Exchange, Collaborative Practice’ at which Raneen Bukhari of KSA shall speak on independent art practices there and Tamadhar Al-Fahel will speak about the Ulafa’a Initiative and reconciliation through the arts. Ulafa’a is a Bahraini art collective that flourished in response to the 2011 Bahraini uprising. It was established by Tamadher Al-Fahal and Nada Al-Aradi in 2012 and has grown over time to include other young Bahraini artists.
Hasan Hujairi, Alia Farid and Balqees Fakhro will lead a conversation about artistic practice and exchange.
‘Alternative Archives, Rewriting Histories and Futures’ will be the topic discussed by Rashid bin Shabib, founder of BrownBook magazine in the UAE and Bahrain’s Mahmood Al Yousif, who will discuss the making of his film ‘Triumph of Insight’ on the life of the late Nasser Al Yousif. The film is also up for screening on the following evening.
The session will also feature the Arabic debuts of John Cage’s famous cultural musing, Lecture on Nothing followed by Lecture on Something
The evening showcase of talks for March 15 ends with a performance by Bahraini composer, sound artist and independent researcher Hasan Hujairi.
Film, music, graffiti
A Special Projects section will feature 5 projects comprising of Photography, Graffiti work, an installation, a Peace building project and a collaboration of art by 3 Indian artists bridging the boundaries between India and Bahrain. The Graffiti works are by The Dirty Hands Crew along with Mustafa Halwachi; Photography is by Hanan Al Khalifa; The Building Bridges section features Indian artists Jaideep and Seema Mehrotra and there will be an installation by Artist and designer Aboubakar Fofana on the theme, Khalil Gibran : “A Guide for Our Time”.
Highlights of March 16 include the I AM Exhibition that opens at 3 p.m. with an introduction by ArtBAB Fairs & Program Director Kaneka Subberwal. It will also include a panel discussion with I AM artists of Bahrain and a talk by Rev. Canon Paul Gordon Chandler.
There will be a series of short talks on the subject ‘Public Art Across Communities in USA’ by influencers of the civic art movement in USA – speakers include Theresa Sweetland, Executive Director – Forecast Public Art/ Public Art Review
Magazine, Minnesota; Lauren Kennedy, Executive Director – Urban Art Commission, Memphis; Jesse Brackenbury, Executive Director, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Boston; Pauline Kanako Kamiyama, Deputy Director of Civic Art, LA County Arts Commission; Karin Goodfellow, Director, Boston Art Commission & Boston AIR, Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture; Ben Owen, Program Director, Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota and Dorka Keehn, Principal – Keehn on Art, Commissioner San Francisco Arts Commission.
Fair and Programme Director Kaneka Subberwal will also talk about ‘Introduction on Partnership and Plans for the 4th edition of Art Bahrain Across Borders in 2019.’
Growing out of the belief that educating enthusiasts about art is a key element to nurturing an interest in it, ArtBAB has chosen Education as its theme for 2018. “We are looking at talks, interactive sessions and education in technique and forms of various different spheres of art,” Kaneka said, “From the first-ever kids@artbab workshop that will focus on developing junior artists and guiding art appreciation among teens and children to serious discussions, the event is replete with the excitement of exploration and discovery.”
Among the galleries exhibiting this year are Alon Zakaim Fine Art from the UK, Samara Art Gallery from Gujarat, India, Tsekh Art Gallery, Ukraine; Galerie Bruno Massa, USA, Italian artist collective Antonello Ghezzi and many more.
An enjoyable first shall be the Merchandise section which will feature a Retail store, Bookshop, Bahraini Handicrafts and local furniture retailers.