Did you know the art event last week at the Dubai World Trade Center? Were you there?
World Art Dubai brought together global and regional accessible artists and galleries, and introduced them to the international community here in Dubai. The massive exhibition hall at the World Trade Center temporarily housed a collection of several hundred modern, contemporary and fine artworks comprising paintings and prints, photography, sculpture, installations, performances, mixed media, new media and more – presented by international and local artists and galleries from across four continents.
I was there not just as a visitor.There were a few artists from Japan and my husband and I were to do translation/interpretation work, to become mediums between the (mostly Japanese only speaking) artists and the visitors.
(It wasn’t in the plan that I’d be there but the husband needed to leave the country for urgent work so I need to substitute for two days.)
This was the booth assigned to me. The image in the painting is Bodhidharma, the father of Zen Buddhism. These were creations of a 70 year old Japanese Buddhist monk who is inspired by the teachings of this zen master. He has a pretty interesting life story which I loved sharing to the visitors.
My younger sister (that one in the photo – she is very good at drawing by the way, one of the artistic ones among six of us) came to see me on the last day and I told her I had so much fun being there – I met so many people from all walks of life and everyone had snippets of interesting stories to tell as to why they love art, or why they are in Dubai, etc. I met people who came to Dubai all the way from far away places. The rarest place I’ve heard? From REUNION ISLAND. I mean, how often do you meet people who say, hello, I’m from Reunion island?
Anyway, the event lasted four days, 7 hours each day. (We were given an hour of break every day)
Honestly, I don’t know anything about art except that it’s an expensive hobby – both for the artist and the art buyers. And that the value is only understood and justified by them (artist and buyer of the art). For the life of me, I could not comprehend abstract work. It always reminds me of the time my son opened the cap of his coloring pens and all the different color inks leaked out and he swished and swooshed it with the palm of his hands.
Did I mention the event lasted for 7 hours each day? I was there for 2 days, standing most of the time for 6 hours. Like, 2-3 hours stretch and I tell you, it is not easy. Sure, it was a wonderful opportunity to make some tidy spending money but that didn’t change how I felt nor did that mask the pain in my feet, balls of my feet, back, etc. On the last 2 hours, every minute was agonizing, I took few deep breaths and a couple of seconds to get my mental bearings and reset my brain for the next visitor. Sitting down wasn’t an option because there are people coming in the booth and asking about the art.
And I wasn’t even wearing heels!
So much for thinking that sitting down for long hours (nature of my real day job) was tough – standing for long hours is definitely tougher. I cannot imagine how store clerks and people who work with retail at busy department stores manage to stand for long hours and then do it again the next day. And the next and the next. By 9 pm when my ‘work’ ended, I surely looked like a painting of death.
At the last day of the event when everyone was saying goodbyes and the organizers thanked each of us for the job well done, I silently told myself, I am the one who should be thankful. Because of this, I learned something, became more aware and grateful for something.
I was at the art exhibition for only a short period of time but I came to appreciate something…and ironically, it’s not art. I did not instantly transform to an art lover although I am really impressed with artists and their talents. A talent I do not have.
I have come to appreciate the people who do this – standing for long hours for work, every single day. And especially to those not paid fairly.
The next time you come across a grumpy sales lady, cut them some slack (especially towards the end of their shift). What they do is really, really tiring.
Last afterthought: I’m not going to complain about sitting for long hours again. I have the option to stand and walk around once in a while anyway.