Structural Issues & Responsibility in the UAE’s Art Scene

  • I was told to retain my NYC address by multiple people in the know to be seriously considered for the AlSerkal Summer Residency,
  • I got the Warehouse421 Homebound Residency after I highlighted the community building experience I had in NYC — I don’t know how much this played a role in selection, but I’m not a fool who thinks it had no weight.
  • I was invited to participate at an exhibition at GPP and selected for an interview at AlSerkal Arts Foundation, in part because I dropped the right name.
  1. I know it’s possible,
  • they critique high-handedly,
  • do not admit that they are also learning,
  • are frequently tight-lipped to create a power imbalance in conversations,
  • hoard power by not being transparent with information/feedback,
  • often patronizing when they disagree with you (reference to years of experience or age),
  • they have an air of “I know more than you.” Please know that these are people who may know a lot, but lose out in the end, because they cannot engage wholeheartedly, and are unable to learn from you or even teach you.
  1. Have they spent time briefing you about the course of your engagement with them?
  2. Are they centering your intention for your work?
  3. Is anyone on the team engaging with your work like they are with your peers?
  4. Are they amplifying your work through opportunities for workshops or guided tours?
  5. Are they providing material support through making space available/ forms of continued commissions/ invitations/ engagement? (Because there are many names that reappear, we all know)
  6. Does their critique feel different for you?
  7. Have they consulted with you about the press they sent out about your work? Does it do justice to your work?
  8. Have you received the grant promised to you on time and at the same time as your peers?
  9. Has the team created an environment (or led by example) where your peers can engage with your work?
  • the channels of distribution for the open call (so much potential here),
  • clarity of the open call language and application criteria,
  • special call-outs to different demographics/ professions/ groups.
  1. Are you used to a certain kind of language and framing for credibility (for example, how this article is written)?
  2. Are you screening applications with keywords in mind? What does that do?
  3. How much weight are you placing on previous institutional support versus the project proposal?
  4. Are you reading the applications with an awareness of your internalized biases (we all have them) and in the larger political context?

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Strategist & Writer | I write about media, women, immigration and many things in between—compartmentalization be damned. https://www.bhoomikag.com

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Bhoomika Ghaghada

Bhoomika Ghaghada

Strategist & Writer | I write about media, women, immigration and many things in between—compartmentalization be damned. https://www.bhoomikag.com

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