Detail from Shilpa Gupta’s installation Altered Inheritances - 100 (Last Name) Stories, 2014. Photo: Ela Bialkowska.

Ishara Art Foundation to Launch in Dubai

The Ishara Art Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the entrepreneur, collector, and arts patron Smita Prabhakar, will open in Dubai on March 18. The venue, located on Alserkal Avenue, a block of small warehouse spaces in Al Quoz that are occupied by artists, galleries, and other creatives, will be the first permanent nonprofit space in the United Arab Emirates dedicated to contemporary South Asian art and artists.

“My desire for brilliant work by South Asian artists to be more widely recognized is at the heart of this project,” Prabhakar said in a statement. “I hope the UAE’s cosmopolitan audiences will appreciate and absorb these artists and their works through our permanent space and dedicated program, allowing cultural voices to enrich our understanding of each other.”

The space’s programming, which will include rotating exhibitions and commissions, will draw from Prabhakar’s collection and be presented across two floors. Prabhakar has appointed Nada Raza—who previously served as research curator at Tate Research Center: Asia—as the foundation’s artistic director.

An exhibition featuring the work of Indian artists Shilpa Gupta and Zarina, titled “Altered Inheritances: Home is a Foreign Place,” will inaugurate the space. The show will address notions of identity, belonging, displacement, and the nation-state. Zarina was also asked to design the new foundation’s logo, which is an ideogram for the word “aasman,” or sky, and was inspired by her work Home Is a Foreign Place, 1999.

Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, the driving force behind Alserkal Avenue, which was established in 2007 and now hosts more than forty galleries, cultural organizations, and creative businesses, was named honorary chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, which comprises Myrna Ayad, Hoda Barakat, Mustafa Hashemi, Abdul Hamid Juma, Colm Mcloughlin, Samer Saifi, Rajan Sehgal, and Abdul Fattah Sharaf.

“The UAE shares a long and rich history with South Asia, and its contemporary art deserves to have a home in the UAE,” Alserkal, said. “We are proud to partner with Ishara Art Foundation to create a space dedicated to supporting South Asian artists.” Alserkal currently sits on the acquisition committees of international institutions such as the British Museum, Tate, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Further details about the foundation’s exhibition program will be announced in the coming months.