The 2016 edition of Art Dubai, from March 16th through the 19th, features more than 500 artists from around the globe. This international art fair is regarded as one of the most globalized gatherings in the world today, and it strives to curate diversity in its exhibitions while maintaining an intimate setting. The fair features three gallery categories: contemporary, modern, and marker. About half of the artists featured in this edition are international, in addition to the Middle Eastern artists. The Marker exhibition is specific to Art Dubai, as it facilitates cross-cultural exchange, an aspect of the fair that they take pride in. The 2016 Marker will be the first major international exhibition of Filipino art of this magnitude, and the first in the Middle East.
In addition to the Marker exhibit, the progressive nature of Art Dubai lies in its balanced gender representation in the artists chosen for their other two galleries. According to Antonia Carver, the director of Art Dubai, 45% of the 500 artists represented at the fair this year are women. To put this statistic into perspective, if you consider the 134 commercial art galleries in London (wherein only 30% of around 3,000 artists are women), only about six of them represent an equal amount of female and male artists. London is considered a capital of international art, as it is one of the hubs for this exhibition.
Another example is the famous Guerilla Girls’ tally of female artists at the Met, which has dropped from five percent to four percent between 1989 and 2012. Clearly, the art community is still dominated by men.
The discrimination in the art community is apparent when one uses London and New York as examples, but Art Dubai challenges this unfortunate reality by attempting to really strike a balance in representation. Most of the employees in Art Dubai’s administration staff are female, which creates more opportunities for awareness of gender representation in Dubai’s artistic community, especially as it rises to become an international hub for contemporary and modern art.
Hopefully, Art Dubai has set a standard for future international art fairs and festivals where appropriate gender representation is concerned. In an Artslant interview with some of the female artists represented, we are reminded that although equal gender representation in the artistic community is important, it is also important to avoid reducing the artist to their gender or the country they’re from (like the Middle East).