Exhibitions News United Arab Emirates

Moving Museum makes its debut in Dubai

Non-profit's first show features Deller, Mirza and Peake; next stops Venice and London

Soheila Sokhanvari, Iraqi Passport, 2009

Dubai’s dogged attempts to transform itself into a contemporary art hub could be boosted by an ambitious show opening in the emirate in March with 24 international contemporary artists including Jeremy Deller, Ryan Gander, Eddie Peake and Haroon Mirza. The exhibition, due to launch at Dubai’s International Financial Centre (DIFC, 18 March-24 April), is organised by a new, non-profit body called the Moving Museum, which plans to mount other shows in Venice and London later this year as part of a touring exhibition programme.

The Moving Museum will present solo presentations of each artist’s work in Dubai, with more than 300 pieces on show. “Our space is a totally raw concrete shell, essentially an unrenovated building within the well polished and corporate exterior [of the DIFC], a space you might expect to find in Berlin or Brooklyn. The exhibition is called ‘Tectonic’, and the space really has a sort of post-apocalyptic, earthquake-torn feeling to it,” says Simon Sakhai, the co-founder of the Moving Museum. Most of the works on display in Dubai will be for sale with proceeds going towards exhibition costs and education programming (a corporate sponsor is still being sought).

The Moving Museum has also teamed up with local organisations such as Traffic and Pavilion to present other works across the emirate. “[The Colombian artist] Ivan Argote, for example, will be creating a new body of work within Dubai. His work often interacts with public spaces through performative interventions, and Dubai’s malls and its unique cultural mix offered an opportunity for us and the artist,” says Sakhai. The British artist Jeremy Deller will present Folksong, 2007, comprising sets of stacked posters strewn around Dubai emblazoned with the lyrics of the Kinks’ 1969 song “Victoria” in English, Arabic and Hebrew.

On the question of censorship, Sakhai says, “We’ve spent a lot of time in Dubai in the run-up to this, and also consulted many people on the ground to ensure that the works would be respectful of local cultural norms.” Meanwhile, a press statement for the exhibition says “the Moving Museum has drawn on a network of international curatorial advisors to assemble the artist shortlist for ‘Tectonic’.”

Sakhai declined to name these advisors. “The spirit is really about collaboration and exchange, and our focus on the artists. Our exhibitions avoid having any kind of curatorial agenda so as to create the best possible platform for the artists’ works,” he says.

In Venice, the Moving Museum will take over San Servolo Island for a 24-hour event called the Performance Pavilion. “Out of Order”, which will run non-stop on 31 May, will incorporate performances at various sites across the island. The London leg, “Open Heart Surgery”, which coincides with the Frieze Art Fair in October, includes large-scale commissioned pieces. Participating artists are yet to be announced.


Soheila Sokhanvari, Iran, 1969, 2011
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