You’re not a real art fair until you’ve got a fringe fair shadowing your event. Art Dubai is in full swing and so is the Bastakiya Art Fair, the fringe doppelganger. Katie Boucher explains in Abu Dhabi’s The National:
Over the last decade, fringe art fairs have played an increasingly important role in the commercial art market, providing cash-rich collectors with access to the most cutting edge work around. The Frieze Art Fair, established in London in 2003 to bring a flush of young talent and money to the capital, now lures collectors from around the world, and has since spawned its own fringe event, Zoo Art Fair. [ . . . ]
Previously known as the Creek Art Fair, BAF is in its third year. “We changed the name because it takes place in the al Bastakiya area of Dubai,” says Doherty. “It’s entrenched in that location and we thought it suited it better.”
Its fringe credentials were stepped up in January when its funding fell through. “We looked around and said: ‘Can we still do this fair?’ We only had the fees from each participant, but we just decided to go with it because the idea is that it’s a fringe event.”
And so their survival mantra – “more fringe than ever” – was born. “It became much more of a community event because we had no money,” Doherty says. Thankfully, the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (DCAA) recently stepped in with some funding, but its scant budget has resulted in a sharper focus for this year, with the event’s emphasis remaining on the art itself, as well as a daily programme of talks.
“It started off as a budget thing, but actually it simplifies it because there is so much happening this year with the Biennial, Art Dubai and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.”
Twelve houses in the Bastakiya neighbourhood of Dubai, as well as their courtyards, have been transformed into contemporary gallery spaces. The artists exhibiting are a mind-bogglingly international mix. The British-born, UAE-based photographer Mark Pilkington will be exhibiting alongside Mizmah, a collective of six arts graduates from Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Saatchi Online, the online arm of the world-famous and recently relocated contemporary Saatchi Gallery in London, will occupy an entire house, where the writer and curator Ana Finel Honigman has selected the best of Saatchi Online’s Middle Eastern artists. And the Diesel Art Space, an international initiative that aims to encourage young artists in the field of contemporary art by salvaging public spaces, will display work by an artist who has never shown publicly before.
The Outer Limit (The National)