50 local and international contributors participate in the ninth edition, co-directed by Turi Munthe and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, with Shumon Basar as Director-at-Large

image Global Art Forum 8, Art Dubai 2014 / Courtesy of Art Dubai

The Global Art Forum is known as a particularly innovative, leading platform for cultural debate, featuring live talks and presentations, plus commissioned research and projects. In 2015, the Forum takes place over five days, beginning for the first time in Kuwait (March 14-15), before continuing at Art Dubai (March 18-20).

Titled ‘Download Update?’, the 2015 Forum takes on the theme of technologies, and their impact on the world of art, culture and beyond. Co-directed by Turi Munthe and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, with Shumon Basar as Director-at-Large, the Forum debates how technologies have transformed not only the way we work, but how we think, interact, learn and create.

The Global Art Forum was launched in 2007 by Art Dubai, the leading international art fair in the Middle East and South Asia, and in 2015, is presented by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and supported by Dubai Design District (d3). In Dubai, the Forum is located next to Art Dubai Modern, at Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (March 18-20).

The Global Art Forum Kuwait (March 14-15) is supported by The Tamdeen Group and takes place at Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, in association with Sultan Gallery and Nuqat. Global Art Forum Kuwait is accompanied by special exhibitions and events across the city.

image Cécile B. Evans / Suddenly The Human Voice - La Voix Humaine, 2014 / Courtesy of the Artist

image Cécile B. Evans / What A Feeling, 2014 / Courtesy of the Artist

“The 2015 Global Art Forum will alter the conversation about technology and the Middle East, and shed light on how the region’s culture in being influenced by the streams of communication innovations that have appeared in the past few decades,” says Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Global Art Forum Co-director.

“Perhaps nothing makes our lives feel better and worse at the same time than technology,” says Shumon Basar, Global Art Forum Director-at-Large. “And while it’s humans who theoretically ‘invent’ technology, the truth is that it’s technology that ‘re-invents’ us humans constantly, in ways we aren’t aware of. ‘Download Update?’ is an opportunity to zoom out and take a screen-shot of the world today, in all its high definition glory and confusion.”

Adds co-director Turi Munthe: “Tech used to lag human: for all of history, we have imagined things that couldn’t be built. That may have inverted: we may not be able to conceive of what already exists. Most symposia that tackle the theme of technology believe in technology. We know it exists. We just don’t worship it.”

The Forum’s diverse talks and presentations in Kuwait and Dubai include:

  • a debate on the online art market, with directors from leading art dotcoms brought together for the first time
  • ways in which virtual museums in the Arab world and Latin America are reaching diasporic publics
  • conversations with artists working at the forefront of new technologies
  • a look back at the first communication technologies in the Gulf, from newspapers to radio and cinema
  • a panel that asks whether we have ‘Too Much Artificial Intelligence’

The line-up of speakers ranges from those at the forefront of new developments in technology –including Jawbone founder Alexander Asseily, M3/Relativity design director Christopher Bevans, Google Cultural Project director Amit Sood and digital education innovator Ayesha Khanna– to artists, writers and curators engaging with technologies in particularly innovative ways, including Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Amar Bakshi, James Bridle, Manal Al Dowayan, Cécile B. Evans, Omar Kholeif, Dan O'Hara, The Otolith Group and Troy Therrien.

image Some of the speakers (L-R): 1. Al Anoud Al Sharekh / 2. Alexander Asseily / 3. Amar Bakshi (courtesy of Elisabeth Bick) / 4. Amit Sood / 5. Dr. Saoud Al Mulla / 6. Ayesha Khanna / 7. Ayssar Arida (courtesy of Reine Mahfouz) / 8. Cécile B. Evans (courtesy of Studio de Joode) / 9. Georgina Adam / 10. James Bridle (courtesy of Steve Forest) / 11. Joseph Grima (courtesy of Victor Jeffries) / 12. Kristine Khouri / 13. Anders Petterson / 14. Mai Al-Nakib (courtesy of Omar Nakib) / 15. Manal Al Dowayan / 16. Parag Khanna (courtesy of Nusrat Duranni) / 17. Sebastian Cwillich / 18. Shumon Basar (courtesy of Begum Goktas) / 19. Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi (courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation) / 20. Turi Munthe (courtesy of Demotix)

The Forum features more participation from the Gulf than ever before, with speakers including former Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabi magazine Sulaiman Al Askari, the artists’ collective GCC, Dubai’s Higher Colleges of Technology director Dr. Saoud Al Mulla, Hessa Al Ossaily of Al Oula radio and Kuwaiti writers and academics Al Anoud Al Sharekh and Mai Al-Nakib, among others.

In Dubai, the Global Art Forum also features the launch of a two-year partnership with 89plus, the long-term, international, multi-platform research project co-founded by Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist, investigating the generation of innovators born in or after 1989. A presentation at Art Dubai 2015 is geared towards developing a collaborative project –the first in the region– to be presented at Art Dubai 2016.

In Kuwait, a special workshop devoted to debating and developing expertise in preserving and digitising archives takes place alongside the Forum. The workshop is led by Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, together with Sultan Gallery, Kuwait. Other presenting organisations and individuals are to be announced over the coming weeks; researchers, curators and artists are invited to apply to attend via artdubai.ae.

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