Ernst Lurker, an artist, curator, designer and musician, coined the term “PlayArt,” in 1962 and since then, it has been appropriated worldwide. A recent Google search of the term turned up 1,610,000,000 results. read more...
PlayArt does exist in the Emirates, and my concept for an immensely large PlayArt Museum generated great enthusiasm and interest. After the Louvre and the Guggenheim Museum projects were launched in Abu Dhabi, apparently, the third art museum was supposed to be a PlayArt Museum. I, therefore, took an exploratory trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. My two agents are exceptionally articulate and they have connections that really reach to the very top. However, my trip was somewhat disturbing and gave me considerable pause.
As a tourist, it is possible to be fantastically entertained. The two cities boast an accumulation of mega projects that may be without competition. But participating in any of these high-risk ventures from a business perspective is an entirely different matter.
The Abu Dhabi Guggenheim may serve as a horrifying example of the manner in which these projects proceed. The contract was signed in 2006 with a completion date of 2011. This date was pushed back, first to 2013, then to 2015 and 2017. The NY Times reported on 5/19/2014: "The Guggenheim is still just a building-size hole, with a skeleton crew of workers pumping out water."
However, the leadership of the Emirates could not produce any evidence that the financial mismanagement, the dismal labor conditions, the unrest, demonstrations and exit of major construction industries would or could be brought under control. Consequently, neither Lanier’s nor my presentation changed hands. The situation was simply too alarming and uninviting.