The Best Booths at Art Dubai 2023 –

Art Dubai opened its 16th edition on March 1 with a strong sense of geopolitical positioning. During the press preview artistic director Pablo del Val called the fair a “mirror of a city of micro-communities,” where “culture is considered in non-Western terms” and regional director Hala Khayat echoed (in Arabic) that the focus of this art fair is the so-called Global South, the 5 percent of the world lacking representation in the Western art market and institution. “It’s the geography of the dream,” she said. Nearby, an unsettling work in the digital section of the fair depicted a rapid project of greening the desert in which swaths of new forest gave way to Dubai’s glittering skyscrapers.

While del Val insisted that Art Dubai is not about “exotic representations or the exception,” as part of a region tempered by a mild political sensibility, it sometimes felt that way. The term Global South was tossed around a lot during the press conference, standing in for a transnational subjectivity that is far from monolithic. In countries that don’t share the same economic inequities or racism, what or where is the Global South is still a point of interrogation, since, as scholar Anne Garland Mahler has put it, “there are economic Souths in the geographic North and Norths in the geographic South … the epithet ‘global’ is used to unhinge the South from a one-to-one relation to geography.”

More than 130 galleries are spread across two halls in the fair’s longtime home at Madinat Jumeirah, the Modern section, tightly curated by Mouna Mekouar and Lorenzo Giusti, melding with the Contemporary. There was a more discursive, communal feel to Art Dubai this year with its most ambitious program of market-driven talks, which includes the first edition of Christie’s Art + Tech and Art Business conference as well as 10 performative culinary South Asia-inspired commissions at the Chaupal delicatessen. The mood among gallerists was generally buoyant and optimistic, with several veteran galleries reporting sales, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi announcing itself as an institutional player ahead of its 2025 opening.

Below are six stand-out booths at the 2023 Art Dubai.

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