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Amman’s DAR Art Fair highlights budding MENA creativity


AMMAN: The second edition of the Jordanian capital’s first-ever contemporary art fair has opened in Amman.

Taking place once again in the city’s Swefieh Village, the DAR Art Fair will run until June 7, presenting 15 galleries from Jordan and throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, with a focus on highlighting young and emerging artists.

The fair — which stands for Dina And Rania, after co-founder and chair Dina Dabbas Rifai, and event director Rania Omeish — serves as a catalyst for predominantly fledgling talent from the region while also showcasing more established artists.

This year, works from 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East are featured, including Somalia, Mauritania, and Oman. Participating galleries are Nabad, Wadi Finan, Karim, Orient, Jodar, Q0de, Enki Ceramic Atelier, Rowaq Al-Balqa, Haseeba, Sami Hindiyeh Museum and Art Gallery, Samia Mango Collection, Fann A Porter, Jacaranda Images, Link Art Space, and Ibrahimi Collection.

Rifai told Arab News: “This edition we are dedicating the fair to artists from the Arab world only. We began the fair because of a need to support local Jordanian and young Arab artists and the need to showcase to the region and international market how many talents we have in the Arab world.”

Rifai noted how the fair aimed to foster a platform for young emerging and upcoming talent.

For this year’s event, the fair occupies a larger space of 1,400 square meters and has its first curatorial consultant, Lebanese artist and curator Abed Al-Kadiri who lives between Beirut and Paris. Next year, Al-Kadiri will act as the fair’s artistic director.

The fair also has a selection committee this year that worked jointly to select the artworks exhibited by the participating galleries in response to the fair’s open call for young artists.

Al-Kadiri told Arab News: “The fact that the fair is focusing on independent artists from the Arab world and young local talents made me particularly interested in accepting DAR’s invitation to develop the fair’s vision and program for next year’s edition.

“This year, I am responsible for creating the scenography for the work shown in the independent section. There are many participating artists from the Arab world, and I have been very selective, even among the works that got selected, in what is being shown and where,” he said.

He pointed out that Amman had always been, “a great platform for many artists from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria to come and work and produce art and it is about time that there is now a professional art fair that is promoting both established and young artists from the region.”

The fair is also split into two sections this year, one for the galleries and another for independent solo artists participating in their own designated section.

Rifai said: “We had over 380 artist applications and the selection committee chose around 24 percent from that number of artworks that will be placed in the independent artists’ section.

“We are presenting contemporary art and modern art in addition to NFTs (non-fungible tokens) created by some of the older renowned modern Arab artists but still, the fair is very focused on contemporary.

“We have video and digital art and installations and NFTs for the first time in Jordan. The works we are presenting are bold and forward-looking.”

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