Thursday, March 14, 2013

A grand showcase of art in Sharjah

Sharjah Art Foundation looks to build on the pioneering role that the Emirate of Sharjah has so far played in the overall artistic & cultural development of the thriving Gulf region. Inspired primarily by the cross-fertilization as well cultural diversity of the landscape, visionary members of the foundation provide national and international direction in the domain of contemporary visual arts. They encourage production and presentation of best of works, recognizing the immense contribution artists make to society and understanding it. The idea is to cultivate a spirit of experimentation, research and excellence while promoting collaboration and exchange within the region and beyond.

In the lead-up to the actual Biennial, London’s Tate Modern significantly hosted a preview panel discussion that included the Sharjah Art Foundation president, Hoor Al-Qasimi and this year’s curator Yuko Hasegawa. In holding this preview debate in the UK, the organizers dealt with several logical and important questions regarding international contemporary art, which often get simplified, subsumed or even ignored. The participating artists talked about their works in relation to trans-regional politics, history and religion.

Each year, there’s a specific curatorial framework for the Sharjah Biennial. For instance, last year it drew on the idea of a treatment for film, replete with a plot, characters and motives. It was woven from a constellation of key words and themes, including Treason, Necessity, Insurrection, Affiliation, Corruption, Devotion, Disclosure and Translation. Within this conceptual and lexical framework, artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers and performers constituted a cast of protagonists. The organizers proposed ‘Plot’ for a Biennial as a platform for multiple conversations with a distinctly worldly perspective yet thoroughly engaged with the city of Sharjah, its past and present as well as its political economy centered on trade and translation.

This year’s Sharjah Biennial features over 100 artists, filmmakers, musicians, performers, and architects whose practices and creations resonate with fine strands of the core curatorial theme: the diversity and complexity of different societies and cultures; political and spatial relations; notions of new emerging forms of contact, exchange and dialogue; innovative methods of producing art and newer ways of thinking and feeling.

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