BEIRUT: The fifth edition of the Beirut Art Fair will open its doors from Sept. 18-21 at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure center. This year the event promises to focus on Lebanese galleries, with local spaces comprising all but 10 of the 38 expected to participate. The first three editions of BAF were scheduled for July, but the last two were shifted to September, a better period for tourists. Organizers have decided to retain this date, though it doesn’t appear to be because of political or social tensions.
At the Wednesday news conference, fair founder Laure D’Hauteville explained that last year’s edition lured in around 18,000 visitors, with many artworks bought by local collectors as well as foreign ones. It is hoped the 2014 edition will attract even more people.
Agial Art Gallery, Artlab, Janine Rubeiz Gallery and Galerie Tanit are among the local galleries planning to participate in BAF. Art Factum, which was represented last year, will be absent this year.
With a few months standing between the news conference and the actual event, it seems the BAF press kit’s list of participating galleries is not definitive.
Some of the local artists whose works will be represented include Oussama Baalbaki, Cyrille Najjar, Hanibal Srouji and Marwa Adel.
Last year BAF set aside a pavilion, curated by Richard Koh, focused on art from South East Asia. This year Indian art will have pride of place, with works selected by French contemporary art critic, artist and writer Fabrice Bousteau.
Independent curator and Lowave co-founder and director Silke Schmickl will also be on hand to present her 15-work video art series “Body Politics.” Comprised of films and videos from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, the series is concerned with how contemporary artists address political and social issues through their bodies and the bodies of others.
There will also be some opportunity for more a hands-on relationship to art practice. Gallerist Fadi Mogabgab will be present to animate workshops on engraving. These sessions, he explained, aim to “give the possibility to many artists to explore a media that is very old” and the form’s relationship to drawing.
This year’s BAF will once again provide a platform for the Byblos Bank Photography contest. Around 10 photographers have been selected to display their works at the fair, from which one will be awarded the opportunity to exhibit at the bank’s headquarters in Ashrafieh.
This year – and notwithstanding the proliferation of design-oriented events in Beirut – the Beirut Art Fair will devote a larger part of its activities to design, with a number of designers participating.
Paris- and Beijing-based critic and curator Jerome Sans will return to BAF for the second year to present a platform dedicated to local and international designers – details of which will be announced at a later date. Local designers who plan to present their wares include Knock Design, and galleries Ounovis Baal Creations and Tosh Fish.
For its 2014 edition, the Beirut Art Fair will range beyond the walls of BIEL. Like the Dubai event that shares its name – which pulls gallery openings into line with the Design Days Dubai and the Art Dubai fair – Beirut Art Week (Sept. 17-24) would have the work of Beirut artists seep into the nooks and crannies of the city’s downtown, in order that they be seen by the largest number of people possible, and thereby to “conquer a new public.”
Organizers used Wednesday’s news conference as an occasion to announce the first edition of the Singapore Art Fair, which will be staged in that city-state from Nov. 27-30.
BAF organizers expressed their joy at the fact that SAF will host a pavilion-sized tribute to Lebanon, one dedicated to the “rich artistic creation in the Land of the Cedars.” Pavilion coordinator Janine Maamari remarked upon the importance of showing that Lebanon is at the center of the art world.
Although many galleries that took part in last year’s edition of BAF appear not to be participating in the 2014 program, BAF 2014 will provide the public with a platform to discover a number of new and emerging local galleries, design and Indian art.
The 2014 Beirut Art Fair will take place at BIEL from September 18-21. For more information, visit www.beirut-art-fair.com