As Art Dubai opens today, we give you our top 20 things to do, speakers to see, galleries to visit and special events worth a wander.
Top 20 things to do at Art Dubai
There are 75 galleries from 34 different countries waiting to welcome you to their booth at Art Dubai this week. That's averaging more than 500 artists laying themselves bare around the Madinat Jumeirah's gilded ballrooms. Following in the vein of this hyperbole of numbers, Christopher Lord lists 20 places you should be over the next four days of art madness.
Meet the eager gallerists flying in for the event
The Pace Gallery
A top-flight newcomer to the fair and home to one of the finest artist rosters out there, Pace brings works by the Chinese performance artist Zhang Huan and the Turner Prize-winner Keith Tyson, among others.
Art Dubai stalwart Paradise Row returns for another year, bringing along works by the Moroccan-born Mounir Fatmi, famous for his pre-9/11 New York skyline made out of rumbling speakers. The London-based space also hosts works by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, who previously "exhumed" works from a forgotten period in Egyptian surrealist art.
Representing South Africa's foremost talent, Goodman fittingly dedicates its booth to William Kentridge this year. This Johannesburg artist is best known for his "moving drawings" - stop-frame charcoal animations - but here shows a tapestry created in collaboration with Marguerite Stephens.
Galerie Teresa Anchorena
It's a sign of Art Dubai's global grab that this Buenos Aires-based space is flying in. Look out for works by Colombian Fernando Botero, best known for the "Boterismo" full-figured folk in his paintings and sculptures, as well as eye-dizzying op art by Julio Le Parc.
Chemould Prescott Road
Still going strong since founding in Mumbai in 1963, the gallery hosts works by Shezad Dawood, including his 2010 work Ville Urbaine from the Cities of The Future series. Using neon, Dawood looks at utopian geometry, including Le Corbusier's designs for the city of Chandigarh
Get to grip with those forging a scene on the home turf
The Third Line
One of the first galleries to open in Dubai that is dedicated to new art from the region, The Third Line has become something of a flag-bearer for this by representing at numerous major fairs internationally. This year, we're looking forward to getting a look at the crazed constructions-in-painting by Amir H Fallah.
Tashkeel is a hub of studios for locally based artists in Nad Al Sheba. Having a booth at the art fair shows Tashkeel's position as an intersection for local talent and showcases work by Reem Al Ghaith and Lateefa bint Maktoum, who both represented the UAE at last year's Venice Biennale.
The gallery strikes a fine balance of European and Middle Eastern painters, sculptors, subverters and installation-makers. Carbon 12 storms back into Art Dubai this year, and our highlights include new works by Sara Rahbar (with a solo show currently in the Al Quoz gallery) and a whole section dedicated to artist Ghazal's map-trotting new drawings.
Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq's spiky black sculptures are cooked up via highly precise and detailed preliminary sketches. For Etemad's debut appearance at the fair, also a relative newcomer gallery to Dubai's art scene, these works on paper show connections between the futuristic edge of his sculpture and a long tradition of Islamic geometric art.
Green Art Gallery
Six artists feature on Green Art Gallery's booth, but our highlight is work by Shadi Habib Allah, a Palestinian multimedia artist who combines sound and animation to create parables about power struggles. Habib Allah has had a lot of attention in the past, when GAG exhibited at Contemporary Istanbul last year.
ŸEnough art? Let's talk. Watch presentations and performances on Fort Island at this year's Global Art Forum
Marshall, Media and Me
Douglas Coupland, the author of the era-defining 1991 novel Generation X, is GAF's headliner this year. Here, he talks about how we really "know nothing" of the ideas behind the cultural theorist Marshall McLuhan's work, the man who coined the phrase "Global village" to describe a globalised world.
Powerpointing™ Your Creative Medium Potential
Starting today, 3pm and continuing at 5pm; more on March 22, 4.30pm
What's the recipe for a good presentation? Whether it's an art fair or a military briefing to the press in the hinterlands of Kabul, PowerPoint is often the first point of call to authenticate any presentation. The art historian Victoria Camblin has got artists and writers to create their own to reflect on this ubiquitous medium.
The GCC: Gulf Colloquy Compendium
The Qatar-based filmmaker and writer Sophia Al Maria has come up with a Gulf-specific lexicon: words and phrases from antiquity to today that have common parlance in this part of the region. She presents readings from the book and commentary on the ideas that drive it.
Mass Medium: Emirati TV on Home Video
Hind Mezaina is the UAE-based blogger behind www.theculturist.com and a photographer. Here, she's curated highlights from Aqeel Al Showab's personal collection of 10,000 VHS/Betamax of Emirati TV from 1970 to 1990 – an archive of historical time viewed with an aged fuzz.
Narrating the broadcast
March 24, 3.30pm
A teacher at the University of Sharjah's College of Fine Arts and Design, Isak Berbic presents his latest performance work, in which he "reports on the reporting" that took place in Egypt and Libya last year, as well as several other recent artworks.
And just when you thought there couldn't be more art-orientated fun, here's a raft of special projects that are well worth a wander
Abraaj Capital Art Prize winning pieces
The Abraaj Capital Art Prize funds five art projects this year, allowing six artists to see their more grandiose (read costly) ideas through to fruition. Look out for work by Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas, in which they turn over a decade's worth of accumulated scam and spam emails into a video performance.
An evening of performance, monologues and video intrusions on Madinat Jumeirah's Fort Island, brought together by the team behind the Dubai gallery Traffic, starts tomorrow at 7pm. With the performance artist Marina Abramovic's philosophy of "Nothing to sell but memories" as a leading light, featured artists include Nada Dada from Sharjah, Hala Ali and the UK musician Bunty.
Browse and buy products created here in the UAE by a wealth of design talent. Inclusion of pieces of jewellery, stationery, T-shirts and prints have all been harangued over by a team of judges, including the Emirati designer Khalid Shafar, to pull out the best handmade stuff this town has to offer.
Radio For Example
The Curatorial Delegation is art writing duo Juan A Gaitan and Abdellah Karroum, the founder of Rabat art centre L'Appartement 22. They'll both be running around town with a mic getting on-the-spot interviews with artworld luminaries who the fair has drawn to its shores, streaming live into Art Dubai and online at www.radioappartment22.com.
A.I.R - Artists In Residency
Three international artists have been working together for the past three months in Dubai's heritage quarter, Al Bastakiya. They showcase their individual works during Art Dubai, and we were particularly impressed when part of their work opened at Sikka Art Fair earlier this week.
Art Dubai is at Madinat Jumeirah, starting today until Saturday, 2pm-5pm today, 2pm-9.30pm Thursday, 12pm-7.30pm Friday and 12pm-5.30pm on Saturday. Entrance is Dh50. Visit www.artdubai.ae for more information