Art Dubai: Cute as a Button

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Published March 30, 2009

In an emirate where the mall is mecca, it was the lo-fi souvenirs supplied by cultural journal Bidoun that were the coveted accessories at the third Art Dubai. The magazine, represented by Editor in Chief Lisa Farjam and Senior Editor Negar Azimi, hosted a number of nighttime events, co-sponsored informal talks, performances, book signings, and a video and film series in The Art Park—literally created in the middle of a car park—and at a smaller art fair in the neighborhood of Bastakiya. It’s been remarked elsewhere that most of the cultural activists in Dubai for the fair were women; this duo might best be called hyper-activists.

Back to the swag: The “East Meets West” lenticular pin that switched between headshots of Diana, Dodi, and the magazine’s own logo. The T-shirt series referenced how popular Arabic words and phrases can be taught to Americans  by using familiar words—”Enchilda” for Insallah (the often-invoked word meaning “God’s will”), for example. A friend of mine wearing this particular shirt found himself at a loss for words when his plane to London was delayed for 12 hours due to a bomb scare, and he found his wardrobe decision a matter of serious scrutiny. I don’t think the “Arabic Sign Language Guide” by artist Sophia Al-Marie in Bidoun‘s recent Winter issue was much help, but he does know how to ask, “May I love your tenders?” (LEFT: PHOTO BY MAUREEN SULLIVAN)