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Abu Dhabi cooperates with the Seville Biennial
By Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt |  February 2010

No partnership between ADACH and BIACS
In May 2010 was announced, that the planned cooperation between the International Biennial of Seville (BIACS) and the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority (ADACH) will not come about after all.

Through the most recent Venice Biennial, at the latest, the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority (ADACH) achieved greater name recognition in the international art scene. At the Arsenale Novissimo, the ADACH presented its own pavilion, curated by Catherine David. As a kind of culture ministry for Abu Dhabi, the institution is charged with preserving and disseminating the Emirate’s cultural legacy and the contemporary art and culture. Its Chairman of the Board, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, a member of the ruling family, also heads the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and its subordinated development agency, the TDIC. The TDIC is responsible for planning and realizing the cultural district on the island of Saadiyat, where the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and other top-ranking cultural sites are emerging.

Considering the hype about Abu Dhabi and Saadiyat Island in recent years, it is astonishing that the collaboration agreed at the end of 2009 between the ADACH and the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville (BIACS) seems to have received very little international attention. After all, since its first edition in 2004, the BIACS has engaged such top-notch artistic directors as Harald Szeemann, Okwui Enwezor, and Peter Weibel. But so far only Spanish media have reported that the ADACH is funding half the budget of the next Seville Biennial with a contribution of 2 million euros.

The postponement of the 4th Seville Biennial until 2011 has already been reported. According to Fernando Franco, the President of the BIACS’ foundation, visits to the earlier editions of the biennial were unfavorably affected by the closeness of the hot summer months, simultaneous biennials elsewhere (including São Paulo), and confusion with the Flamenco Biennial. It is hoped that, when the next Seville Biennial opens in February 2011 directly before the art trade fair ARCO (in Madrid), this will result in powerful synergetic effects and more international guests.

Both parties want to benefit from this collaboration, of course. The aim is a strong presence of artists from the Middle East at the 4th Seville Biennial. To this end, the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority will be appointing one of the two curators or artistic directors. But BIACS President Fernando Franco underscores that Arabic countries will not be participating in the form of a separate project; rather, both curators together will work out a single exhibition with an overarching theme. So far no names have been officially announced, but the Spanish press has reported that the BIACS has been considering Margarita Tupitsyn as an Artistic Director. She was born in Moscow and has lived in the United States since 1975.

Paralleling the international exhibition and the cultural program of the 4th Seville Biennial, economic meetings are also planned to deepen economic relations between Abu Dhabi and Spain, especially Andalusia.

Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt
Publishers of Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art; co-publishers and editors-in-chief of Nafas Art Magazine. Based in Berlin, Germany.

(Translation from German: Mitch Cohen)

United Arab Emirates in Venice 2009
Two presentations at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Detailed information and photos in the UiU Special on the Venice Biennial 2009.


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International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville (BIACS)

February - April 2011

Fundación Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla

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See also:

Saadiyat Cultural District
Information & photos:
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Performing Arts Centre
Maritime Museum
Sheikh Zayed Museum

Culture Boom in Abu Dhabi
Visions, skepticism, chances. Protagonists of the culture in the UAE about the planned museums. By Haupt & Binder

Nafas  |  Institutions  |  United Arab Emirates