As I wandered through the opening of abc art fair 2012, I noticed the fair had expanded vastly from last year’s edition. This year sees an increase in gallery inclusions from across the world as well as a healthy return of participants from its inaugural edition in 2008.
 

abc Opening September 13th 2012


The whole structure of the fair has been slightly reconfigured. It has a fluid arrangement of booths and projects with a more defined entrance area, behind glass doors beyond an open courtyard (packed with guests, VIP’s, art world crowd and press). This leads to the first of three main halls which marked the start of my three day tour of abc, Berlin’s innovative art fair. The fair notably has a more experimental approach this year, as although in keeping with its overall solo artist booth presentation, it also gives galleries the flexibility to abandon ‘white-cube’ booth format to create architectural or conceptual booth installations (which were fully taken advantage of by IBID Projects, BQ, Kraupa-Tuskany and Blank Projects).
 
Having lived and worked in Dubai for the last year, it was great to be welcomed into the fair by familiar faces from the UAE, starting off with The Third Line’s impressive presentation of minimal sculptor Rana Begum; Grey Noise’ with a selection of barely there/haunting drawings by Ayesha Jatoi; Gallery Isabelle van Den Eynde (IVDE) with raw and vibrant works on paper by Iranian painter Farshid Maleki and four signatory flag-type assemblages by Iranian artist Sara Rahbar at Carbon 12.
 
All of these galleries are showing engaging works by MENASA artists, with two of the galleries (IVDE and The Third Line) returning for a second time to the fair. I spoke to all four UAE galleries about showing in Berlin, selection choices and also got an insight to who these gallerists were looking at in terms of other artists/booths that made an impact on them. Here’s their impressions on Day 1 of abc:
 
Laila Binbrek
Director
The Third Line Dubai

Laila Binbrek of Third Line


Q. What are your impressions of this year’s abc? In terms of participating galleries/participation/atmosphere and this solo artist presentation overall?

A. So far I have been quite impressed with the fair, the quality of the selected artists + galleries. The atmosphere is very positive and friendly. The opportunity to feature a solo presentation of new works by Rana Begum works well in this space/venue as the architectural element is important part of her work.


Q. Why have you decided to show your represented artist Rana Begum here and what response have you had to the booth?

A. We chose Rana Begum because we felt the aesthetic of her work would appeal to the German audience and that her work, which is greatly influenced by architectural forms would respond well to the venue of the fair. The response has been very positive so far.


Q. Is there any other booth or presentation you have seen that is of interest?

A. Since we are just on the opening day it has been hard to get away from our booth to look at all the work. However if I was to recommend a work to go view (other than ours) I would say to go and view the work by the collective Slavs and Tatars called „Prayaway“ showing at Kraupa-Tuekany gallery.


Q. How do you feel about participating at abc for a second year in a row?
A. We are very happy to be invited for a second year and be able to promote our gallery program and artists to a new audience.
 
Umer Butt
Director
Grey Noise
Dubai, UAE

Grey Noise @ abc


Q. What are your impressions of this year’s abc? In terms of participating galleries/participation/atmosphere and this solo artist presentation overall?
A. To what I have seen, Berlin always has an edge with whatever it offers… It has to be fresh and innovative. The list of galleries are both young programs like ours and some established names. Atmosphere is trendy and super cool!

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the artist’s presentation at the fair?
A. We were asked to present Ayesha Jatoi’s work which was selected by Marc. Her series of paintings are an on going research in Persian Miniature paintings and its spatial divisions. Also looking at the flattened multiple perspectives, Jatoi removes the loaded information on each manuscript and leaves only the subtle architectural grids, opening them up much further than its original content.

Q. Why have you decided to show your represented artist Ayesha Jatoi here and what response have you had to the booth?
A. Actually we were asked to show Ayesha by Marc, the fair director. Its been an impressive opening and a positive entry for us in the German art market.

Q. How do you feel about participating at abc for the first time?
A. It’s a privilege to show and be part of this unique fair. And we hope to return next year again.
 
Isabelle van den Eynde (Owner/Director) and Minnie McIntyre (Artist Liaison)
Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
Dubai, UAE

Minnie McIntyre @ IVDE


Q. What are your impressions of this years abc? 
A. The whole setup of the fair has changed, and this has been greatly appreciated, it has become bigger and yet managed to retain a fluid circulation with open, interactive spaces and a relaxed atmosphere. We like the approach of the curators this year, who unlike last year doing it by theme and artist, picked the galleries and left the curatorial direction to them.

Q. Why have you decided to show your represented artist and what response have you had to the booth?
A. We are presenting the work of an Iranian 69 year old master painter. His work is instinctive, described by him as ‚visual thinking‘ that responds to no formal rules, and echoes in this way German expressionism. Maleki’s electrifying works are unplanned impressions, congested with figures that overlap, reflecting his complex personality and mood towards the people, animals and environments he encounters throughout his life. 

Q. Is there any booth or presentation you have seen that is of interest?
A. Dan Peterman’s work, his ripening of goats cheese in an enormous plastic bag, and tools and bookshelves made from recycled plastic, at Klosterfelde Gallery’s booth, is an unusual and striking exploration of ecological issues.

Q. How do you feel about participating at abc for a second year in a row?
A. It’s important for us to be consistent in our international presence.
 
Kourosh Nouri
Director
Carbon 12
Dubai, UAE

Sarah Rahbar and Carbon 12 Directors


Q. What are your impressions of this year’s abc? In terms of participating galleries/participation/atmosphere and this solo artist presentation overall?

A. Today (the first day) we felt an incredible energy, and the visitors are extremely educated and attentive. From a qualitative aspect, I have seen so many primary works… A real pleasure for the eyes, and the joy of discovering works is strongly there. Definitely a great opening day.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the artist’s presentation at the fair?
A. The work Anonymously Yours (2012) is one of the latest works of the artists, from the series „confessions of the sinner“… I would say a very typical „Rahbarian“ work, at the same time.

Q. Why have you decided to show your represented artist Sara Rahbar here and what response have you had to the booth?
A. Sara’s artistic growth has been unbelievable in the past three years, and we needed an occasion like abc to show her works in an important art scenes like Berlin, after Cologne.

Q. How do you feel about participating at abc for the first time?
A. So far great, and if we get more concrete feedbacks by the end of the fair, we will already think of the next edition and project for abc 2013.
 
BY JAREH DAS, EDITOR FOR EYEOUT