Sharjah Art Foundation announces curators of Sharjah Biennial 14

The Sharjah Art Foundation has just announced the curators of Sharjah Biennial 14 taking place in 2019.

In 2019, the Sharjah Biennial will be curated by Omar Kholeif, currently Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, independent curator and scholar Claire Tancons, and Zoe Butt, Artistic Director of The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Sharjah Biennial 14 Curators. Left: Omar Kholeif, photo by Eric T. White. Centre: Claire Tancons, photo by Nicola Bustreo. Right: Zoe Butt, photo by Nguyen Tri. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

Sharjah Biennial 14 Curators. Left: Omar Kholeif, photo by Eric T. White. Centre: Claire Tancons, photo by Nicola Bustreo. Right: Zoe Butt, photo by Nguyen Tri. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

Just days after the closing of Sharjah Biennial 13 final programme in Beirut, Sharjah Art Foundation has announced the curators and their three exhibitions for Sharjah Biennial 14 (SB14) opening in March 2019. Omar Kholeif, Claire Tancons and Zoe Butt have been invited to respond to the overarching theme of the 14th edtion of the biennale, “Leaving the Echo Chamber”, which, as the Foundation explains, will

question the possibilities for producing art when material culture is under constant threat of human destruction and climate degradation, continuing the Biennial’s tradition of offering artists from the surrounding region and beyond an internationally recognised platform for exhibition and experimentation.

SAF venues, 2016. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

SAF venues, 2016. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

The Sharjah Biennial has since its founding explored issues as diverse as climate change, agriculture, political conflict and artistic production. The next edition will explore the phenomenon of the “echo chamber” of information, complex personal networks and shifting narratives, and its physical, spiritual and virtual aspects. The curators have been invited to present three distinct exhibitions, bringing together a range of experiences and works by contemporary artistsincluding major commissions, large-scale public installations, performances and films – to explore the ways in which contemporary life, aided by the rapid technological changes, has created this inescapable “echo chamber”.

Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces, Sharjah Heritage Area, Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces, Sharjah Heritage Area. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

“Leaving the Echo Chamber” will explore subjects ranging from migration and diaspora, to concepts of time and interpreted histories, in relation to today’s continuous loop or “echo chamber” of information and history.

Zoe Butt is currently Artistic Director of The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Previously, she helped develop and raise the profile of the independent artist space Sàn Art in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In “Journey Beyond The Arrow”, Butt proposes to give a deeper context to the movement of humanity and the “tools” that have facilitated or hindered its survival. Aiming to shed light on the diversity of human existence and experience and its exchanges across the globe, the exhibition considers a range of physical and psychological tools, from spiritual ritual to cultural custom, from technological process to political rule of law, and their shifting representation and meaning as a consequence of colonial exploit, religious conflict or ideological extremism.

SAF venues, 2016. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

SAF venues, 2016. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

Currently the Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, writer and curator Omar Kholeif will present a three-part exhibition. “Making New Time” will focus on the idea of time as a unit of experience that is at once singular and collective, representing chaos and possibility. The show will start with an examination of the physical body by artists who have represented tactile figures and forms, moving then into the realms of augmented and virtual reality, and concluding with an investigation into the trials, tribulations and traces of history, suggesting how our existence can be changed, altered and re-imagined.

Claire Tancons is an independent curator and scholar interested in the discourse and practice of the postcolonial politics of production and exhibition. Previously, she has curated for established and emerging international biennials, including the Gwangju Biennale in 2008 and the Cape Town Biennale in 2009. Her exhibition for SB14, “Look for Me All Around You”, questions “if obscurity is the harbinger of futurity, darkness the site of seeing, and blackness the scene of unmasking”. Tancons reflects on the ways we look, learn and feel, offering new ways of perceiving by reflecting on dispossession and diaspora, piracy, clandestinity and fugitivity.

SAF venues, 2016. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

SAF venues, 2016. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, said about SB14’s curators:

Contemporary life is dominated by competing information and fluctuating historiesa reality that raises important questions about the trajectory of contemporary art, as well as the conditions in which it is made. Butt, Kholeif, and Tancons bring incredibly different perspectives to these questions, and together represent the complexity of challenges faced by today’s artists and society as a whole. The aim of the Biennial is to deepen the context of these questions through thought-provoking and often experiential works of art.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1936

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