dubai art exhibition Festival X alserkal
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is characterized by cultural diversity, where tradition and modernity, as well as regional circumstances and global dynamics, intersect in a unique way. These circumstances have led to a special ecosystem in which people and their culture, tools, and relationship with nature form a special alliance.

Text and photos by our contributor Marco Fraschetti

This relationship is the result of specific existential conditions and has created a logical connection between tradition, innovation, and vision that is not evident in the same way in other parts of the world. The ability to defy and adapt to circumstances has become an everyday routine and an important part of the cultural identity.

This raises the question of how this complex life situation can be artistically reflected and what artistic forms of expression and tools can emerge from it. Ars Electronica and Festival X have joined forces to explore this question and find answers through local and international artistic perspectives.

The contemporary form of media art, which engages with a society shaped by new technologies and the associated risks and opportunities, is presented. Media artists, in particular, use these very technologies as tools for innovative artistic expression.

The common goal of Ars Electronica and Festival X is to promote a local artistic community through this future- oriented art form. Inspired by the dynamics of the region’s unique circumstances, a distinct dialectic of media art will emerge. A new perspective on art and artists is intended to strengthen identity within the region and build a direct bridge between tradition and modernity through innovative forms of expression. Tradition should no longer be solely associated with the past, but rather become a concept that represents a society’s attitude that is aware of its roots and values, while being open and adaptable to a challenging future.

In the exhibition ‘From the past we love, to the future we need’, we encounter not only an innovative form of art but also artworks that address the major challenging questions of our time and offer alternative, prototypical solutions beyond mere criticism. Sustainability, coexistence, and collaboration will be defining concepts, as well as the role we, as humans, assume and the role we want to assign to technology. It explores where we position ourselves in nature, the significance we give to nature itself, and ultimately how this affects the nature of humans and human existence.

Festival X

In recent years, technological innovation festivals have gained significant popularity across the globe. These festivals provide a platform for showcasing groundbreaking advancements and celebrating the intersection of technology and creativity. While some may question the inclusion of student work alongside established artists, it is, in fact, the perfect way to go.

First and foremost, a technological innovation festival is crucial for fostering progress and driving economic growth. Festival X Dubai showcase the latest innovations and inventions, these festivals inspire creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking among both students and established professionals. This environment encourages participants to push the boundaries of what is possible and develop disruptive technologies that can revolutionize industries. By incorporating student work into the festival, the event becomes an inclusive space that values contributions from all levels of expertise, promoting an atmosphere of learning and advancement.

Additionally, presenting student work alongside established artists in such festivals offers numerous benefits. Firstly, it provides students with a unique opportunity to gain exposure and recognition for their ideas and creations. This exposure not only encourages students to continue their innovative pursuits but also provides them with valuable connections and potential job opportunities within the industry. Moreover, students can learn from the experiences and expertise of established artists, who can serve as mentors and offer guidance on turning their vision into reality. In conclusion, a technological innovation of Festival X is of paramount importance in driving progress and inspiring the next generation of innovators.

About Al Serkal Avenue

The cultural and artistic hub of Dubai, Alserkal is an arts and culture enterprise based in Dubai, dedicated to developing homegrown initiatives, cultural production and events, while supporting creative minds and contemporary non-profit research. Alserkal takes on the crucial role of engaging the local community and bridging the gap between Festival X and our target audience.

About Next Gen

‘Next Gen’ is a dedicated exhibition space to university students to showcase their work, share their ideas, and network and connect to others in the community, as an initiative to foster the youth.

Therefore, the main purpose and focus at this stage is to have the presence of different national, regional and international universities’ students, regardless of how advanced and developed the presented works are.

Festival X’s collaborative participation with UAE universities such as New York University Abu Dhabi, American University of Sharjah, and Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, at Ars Electronica Festival Campus 2023, empowers and sheds light on the emerging artists and youth from the UAE, and the region on an international scale.

The three UAE-based universities will be presenting some fully developed installations, as well as concepts that will be presented as showreels, and works in progress, involving works that focus on environmental and cultural topics.

These three universities’ works will then be taken back to Festival X and exhibited as part of the ‘Next Gen’ exhibition, alongside student works from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology from Saudi Arabia, and Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, as regional representatives.

The goal is now to connect to international institutions and universities, and to step beyond the region, in order to create an opportunity for the participating students to expand their network and ideas, and spark a deeper and more challenging conversation amongst them.

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