Tashkeel, 2013. Art Dubai.

LONDON - Spring came early to London last night. In fact it came in the middle of a downpour at The Arts Club on Dover Street. Many of us had gathered to hear a fascinating talk by Payam Sharifi of the Paris-based Slavs and Tatars organization, arranged jointly by the Tate Young Patrons group and ArtDubai’s Antonia Carver who never fails to stir up an instant desire to board a plane to sunny Dubai for the feast of artworks her fair regularly offers. This year’s ArtDubai area focus will be Central Asia and Caucasus.

Slavs and Tatars is an art collective and "a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China.” Sharifi’s talk was as engaging as the mission of the collective proposes to be. Navigating deftly between linguistics, Sufi Islam, and the politics of cultural displacement, Sharifi took his audience on a brisk journey through a beckoning map of identities and nuances. He pointed out misconceptions, filled in gaps in our common understanding of the geography in question, and left us asking for more.

Art Dubai, 2013.

This of course, will happen during Art Dubai 2014 where a whole panel discussion on Central Asia and art from that region will bring much-needed attention to this vibrant and growing area. Sotheby’s own Suad Garayeva (with Elif Bayoglu), co-curators of a selling exhibition on Central Asian, Turkish and Iranian art – cultures with a common Turkic heritage – will be part of an educational programme at ArtDubai where accomplished panel-veteran Anthony Downey of Sotheby’s Institute of Art will preside.

Last night few of us could deny our excitement at the prospect of reuniting on March 17th when Galleries Night at the DIFC will launch the hungry search for arresting art, emerging art, and everything in between.