Dubai By Way of SoHo: The Middle East Art Scene Makes for an Exhibit of New York Lore

Review. International press loves to dismiss Dubai as a soulless place devoid of local culture and invested instead in yachts, luxury malls, camel racing, and cheap labor. Just a few miles from the touristy glitz, however, a strong and stable art scene lies in the industrial area of Al Quoz, where artists have been testing conventions and beliefs in the United Arab Emirates since the 1980s alongside pioneering dealers who have sold work to increasingly cultivated collectors for more than a decade. And now a show of works by another community of artists—this one from the historical lore of downtown New York—is on view at the Jean-Paul Najar Foundation, a private museum on Al Quoz’s Alserkal Avenue.

“Artist Run New York: The Seventies,” a group exhibition featuring 44 works by 18 artists including Richard Nonas, Tina Girouard, Trisha Brown, Richard Tuttle, and Gordon Matta-Clark, prompts conversations about the resonance of art from a very different time and place. Perhaps more importantly, in the midst of a fast-developing 500,000-square-foot Alserkal Avenue complex of warehouses now containing around 12 galleries and 40 creative outlets as well as a new Rem Koolhaas-designed exhibition space, connections can be drawn between a celebrated period from a foreign past and a growing UAE art ecosystem.

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