UAE art shows coincide with Arab Spring
The fair’s patron is Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. In advance of his arrival, a member of his entourage visited every booth to make sure that nothing might cause offence. The censor proved to be more tolerant this year than last, objecting to just one work rather than three.Yet the lone offender said much about UAE sensitivities. Installed on the stand of the Parisian Galerie Hussenot, “The Lost Springs” by Mounir Fatmi consisted of a row of national flags. Whereas the Tunisian and Egyptian flags were held up by brooms, the other Middle Eastern flags, including those of the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Bahrain, were hung on the wall. The sculpture was wonderfully puzzling. Should old regimes be brushed away? Will the new democracies be cleaner? Despite the ambiguity, Galerie Hussenot was instructed to remove the brooms every time a dignitary walked past.
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