Art Dubai, the biggest middle-eastern international art fair, will for the first time showcase non-fungible tokens from March 11-13, 2022. This year’s fair will see the launch of the Art Dubai Digital section to explore the growth of NFTs, cryptocurrency, video art, and virtual reality since digital art made its first appearance in the 1980s.
The Art Dubai Digital section will be curated by New York-based cultural researcher Chris Fussner from the Tropical Futures Institute.
Notable NFT exhibits
The digital section of the art expo will see seventeen collectives showcase their work.
NFT curator MORROW Collective, founded in March 2021, will exhibit works by 35 artists, costing between 0.8 ETH and 10 ETH. “We will have a screen dedicated to VR, showing our gallery spaces across different metaverse platforms, and we are also proud of our physical sculpture in the center of the booth, produced by 3D printing from an NFT counterpart,” says the co-founder of MORROW Collective.
An online gallery focused on nascent and mid-career artists from North Africa and the Middle East called Emergeast will showcase works costing between 0.8ETH to 8ETH. A notable work on show will be CarpETHereum by Mazyar Kamkar and Reza Vojdani, depicting an Ethereum symbol covered in a Persian carpet, symbolizing the birth of Web 3.0 in the Middle East. Other artists from Emergeast who will be on-show are Hana Shahnavaz, Muhcine Ennou, Mays AlMoosawi, Tarik Chebli, and Parsa Mostaghim
Dima Abdul Kader, co-founder of Emergeast opines that “an NFT/crypto focus for any art fair and art institution is a natural extension of the contemporary art market.”
Gazelli Art House’s digital branch, GAZELL.iO, will also display artworks by Orkhan Mammadov. The collection Singularity in Heritage uses Middle Eastern rug designs to create generative patterns. It will release 333 NFTs, selling for between three and six-figure dollar prices.
The metaverse also appears at this year’s Art Dubai, with Campus Art Dubai exhibiting NFTs created by 12 artists. There will be a series of talks presented by the Global Art Forum on digital artifacts and crypto economies. Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit has sponsored a series of talks on the basics of cryptocurrency, digital media, and NFT art.
Move to digital is natural, says fair director
The fair’s move to digital is a natural one, according to the artistic director of Art Dubai, Pablo del Val. “For over 15 years, Art Dubai has been a place to discover and celebrate new trends, creating and facilitating conversations,” says del Val.
It remains to be seen whether Art Dubai takes on a more permanent digital flavor going forward. Sales will most likely determine the trajectory of Art Dubai. Certainly, Dubai’s geographical centrality and digital infrastructure bode well for anyone looking to start a crypto-related business there, opines Seaman.
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