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Label: dubai

Wednesday 03rd February 2016Can Dubai Function as a New Arts Hub?

Globalization means a lot of things to a lot of people, and affects almost every sphere of human activity - dare we say it - across the globe. While most people associate it with geopolitics and economic matters, the resulting effects are felt in a number of unexpected ways. Unexpected to some, at least.

As we've seen in our past posts about of the changing nature of art auctions, the number of buyers from countries in the Middle East and Asia are rapidly expanding as the number of millionaires and billionaires with money to spend increase. This leads to yet another chain of surprising events, as we see traditionally repressive regimes come to grips with the results of new cultural influences thanks to the rapid flow of information that comes from a globalized economy.

Dubai, one of the richest cities in the world and certainly the richest in its home country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has recently decided that it would like to become a more prominent figure in the global arts community. One of the more publicised ways it hopes to achieve this is through global arts exhibits, including the Dubai Photo Exhibition, a major event that will be launching in March. Featuring photography by artists from 23 countries around the world,

“For the inaugural edition in 2016, Dubai Photo Exhibition will present a showcase of museum quality international works, which will be held in the Dubai Design District (d3), and supported by the World Photography Organisation,” the organisers explained in a press release.

This in turn leads back to one of the most important questions about art: what is its purpose? If the purpose of art is to challenge perception, push social dialog and help us reflect on the nature of human existence, it seems a bit tough to reconcile with the extremely strict social policies that the government enforces. Something as simple as kissing in public is illegal and can result in deportation, and other strict laws cover what is regarded as public indecency.

Many detractors of photography as an art form have claimed that it's merely photojournalism at best, and not really art in the strictest sense. If one were to accept that premise, does it explain the choice of a worldwide photography exhibition as the culturally 'safest' option for a repressive regime to accept? Or more hopefully, is this a clever move intended to increase the flow of ideas and help shift cultural norms?

Would a photo of a kissing couple be enough to get the artist kicked out of the country and banned from future events? Time will tell, as the exhibit opens in mid-March and we see what pieces they have decided to include. Simple and safe, or risque and refreshing?

 

Posted on February 03rd 2016 on 04:31am
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