Accepted Paper:

Shaping the Emirati artistic landscape: Role and legacy of Emirati Art pioneers  
Océane Sailly (Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3)

Paper short abstract:

This proposal aims to explore the evolution of the Emirati artistic landscape from 1980 until today to shed light on the role and legacy of the first generation of Emirati artists and art patrons in the institutionalization of art. Their efforts have created a fertile soil for cultural developments.

Paper long abstract:

The rapidly growing Art market of Dubai and the announcement of an "Island of museums" converging international architects in Abu Dhabi have caught the attention of media which regularly covers the progress of museum projects on Saadiyat Island and hails Dubai as a new capital of Art. Yet, those two dynamics are either described as imported phenomenons from Foreign experts or as created ex-nihilo in a cultural desert. So, while this media coverage has shed light on the current Emirati artistic landscape, it obscures the foundations and history of artistic developments in the United Arab Emirates. What is its genesis ? What were the major steps ? Who were the key actors ?

We have chosen to present the Emirati artistic landscape since 1980, year of creation of the Emirate Fine Arts Society, until today. Our approach focuses specifically on private actors, primarily artists, but also art patrons and professionals, who were and are currently the main representatives of a rapidly developing artistic landscape. We will first see that Emirati artists were the first to plant the seeds necessary for the emergence of contemporary art, developing an organic scene evolving with the country. Then, we will see that the emergence of a locally established private sector has, to a certain extent, enabled the institutionalization of contemporary Art while mitigating the lack of infrastructure. Finally, the recent upheavals of the artistic landscape of the UAE will be apprehended through the socio-economic changes in the country, especially in Dubai.

Panel P035
Art, Culture and Materiality in the Arabian Peninsula