Thursday, December 04, 2008

No Expense Spared As Arab Nations Party Their Way to the Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale is to play host to the first pavilion from the United Arab Emirates next year.

If anyone is in any doubt that the Gulf states are a coming power in art and culture, then lay it to rest. The Venice Biennale - that barometer of the ebb and flow of artistic trends - is to play host to the first pavilion from the United Arab Emirates next year. If there's a political message here, it's that the UAE is not just building cultural palaces - witness Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island, where a performing arts center by Zaha Hadid and a Guggenheim museum by Frank Gehry are also being constructed - but also producing artists, though none have yet been named for Venice. One thing's for certain: no expense will be spared.

Meanwhile, in Qatar, the vast new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha opened to the public on Monday. Designed by IM Pei, it houses a stupendous collection of Islamic artworks; the chair of the board is Sheikha Mayassa, daughter of the emir. The opening celebrations were apparently lavish: wonderful food, a performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and all the movers and shakers in attendance - Tate director Nicholas Serota, British Museum director Neil MacGregor, both the outgoing director and the director designate of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. No demon drink, of course - which certainly makes a change from boozy British art parties, not least Monday's Turner prize.

The Guardian Newspaper 12/2/2008

La Biennale di Venezia
Making Worlds
The 53rd International Art Exhibition
Director: Daniel Birnbaum
7 June 2009 – 22 November 2009

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