SHARJAH, 12th January, 2023 (WAM) -- The Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) is bringing together over 150 artists and collectives from more than 70 countries for the 15th edition and 30-year anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial, which will run from 7th February until 11th June, 2023.
Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by the Foundation's Director Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 15, which will be held under the theme "Thinking Historically in the Present", reflects on Enwezor's visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial.
Al Qasimi interprets and elaborates on Enwezor's proposal with a presentation of more than 300 artworks - including 70 new works - critically centring the past within contemporary times. These works, as well as a wide-ranging programme of performance, music and film, activate more than 18 venues in 5 cities and towns across the emirate of Sharjah: Al Dhaid, Hamriyah, Kalba, Khorfakkan and Sharjah.
Among the many venues are sites within Sharjah's historical quarter; buildings recently restored and transformed by the Foundation including The Flying Saucer and Kalba Ice Factory; and repurposed structures that once served as a vegetable market, medical clinic and kindergarten.
"Two decades ago, I experienced Okwui's Documenta 11 which, with its radical embrace of postcolonialism, transformed my curatorial perspective. His idea of 'thinking historically in the present' is the conceptual framework for the Biennial, which we've sought to honour and elaborate on while also reflecting on the Foundation's own past, present and future as the Biennial marks its 30-year anniversary. We look forward to welcoming local audiences and visitors from around the world to reflect on the Biennial's themes and the artists' wide-ranging perspectives on nationhood, tradition, race, gender, body and imagination," Al Qasimi said.
Enwezor's proposition of the "postcolonial constellation" and its pluriverse of key concepts form one point of departure for the 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial. Re-envisioning the proposal by the late curator, Al Qasimi builds upon her own long-term relationship with the Biennial, as visitor, artist, curator, and eventually as director of the Foundation.
The 18 venues spread across the emirate of Sharjah - from heritage buildings and historical landmarks to modern architecture of the late 1900s and contemporary spaces - connect different moments of Sharjah's history as well as its diverse communities and landscapes.
Through more than 300 artworks, the Biennial proposes a transcultural universe of thought embedded into this local social fabric, involving Sharjah's own lived past in a nuanced conversation around postcolonial subjectivity, the body as a repository of memories, restitution, racialization, trans-generational continuities, and decolonisation.
Rooted in intimate and caring observations of everyday lives and vernacular traditions, performances, concerts, workshops and other public programmes will activate the venues as well as regional art centres located in each city, forming a capillary reach across the emirate throughout the four-month duration of the Biennial.
Performances and theatrical presentations will be on offer throughout the Biennial. Gabriela Golder, Hassan Hajjaj, Rachid Hedli, Tania El Khoury, The Living and the Dead Ensemble and Aline Motta will activate their work during the opening week in February. In conjunction with the annual March Meeting, Marwah AlMugait, Shiraz Bayjoo, Naiza Khan and Akeim Toussaint Buck will perform in early March. Musical programmes featuring musicians Youssou N'Dour and Abdullah Ibrahim will follow in March and April, with additional performances to be announced later.