Press Release

Sharjah Art Foundation Announces Initial Selection of Participating Artists for Sharjah Biennial 14 in March 2019

Sharjah, UAE
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Leaving the Echo Chamber Will Include Three Exhibitions Featuring Artists from Around the Globe 

Sharjah Art Foundation today announced an initial selection of participating artists for the next Sharjah Biennial, opening in March 2019. Featuring established and emerging international artists from around the globe, the 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennial (SB14), Leaving the Echo Chamber, explores the possibilities and purpose of producing art when history is increasingly fictionalised, when ideas of ‘society’ are invariably displaced, when borders and beliefs are under constant renegotiation and our material culture is under the constant threat of human destruction and climate degradation. As an internationally recognised platform for exhibition and experimentation for artists from the surrounding region and beyond, the Sharjah Biennial has explored themes as diverse as climate change, agriculture, political conflict and artistic production since 1993, working with curators from countries and institutions from around the world. 

SB14 will feature exhibitions by curators Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif and Claire Tancons, bringing together a range of experiences and works—including major commissions, large-scale public installations, performances and films to explore how contemporary life, enabled by rapid technological change, has created a seemingly inescapable ‘echo chamber’ of information, complex personal networks and shifting narratives that are physical, spiritual and virtual.

On view in the foundation’s buildings and courtyards across the city’s arts and heritage areas, as well as other spaces in Sharjah, 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 of mediated information. Invited to respond to the overarching issues and concerns of Leaving the Echo Chamber, the curators will present three distinct exhibitions, for which they have invited a selection of artists from around the world, as well as from the United Arab Emirates and the surrounding region, to participate.

‘Contemporary life is dominated by competing information and fluctuating histories—a reality that raises important questions about the trajectory of contemporary art, as well as the conditions in which it is made,’ said Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. ‘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.’

An initial selection of participating artists in each of the three exhibitions follows below with the complete line-up to be announced in the coming months: 

Artist biographies and full curatorial statements are available at sharjahart.org/biennial-14.

Journey Beyond The Arrow, curated by Zoe Butt, will include works by:

  • Khadim Ali
  • Meiro Koizumi 
  • Nalini Malani 
  • Tuan Andrew Nguyen 
  • Ho Tzu Nyen 
  • Ahmad Fuad Osman 
  • Lisa Reihana 
  • Kidlat Tahimik 

Journey Beyond The Arrow gives deeper context to the movement of humanity and the tools that have enabled (or hindered) its survival. From spiritual ritual to cultural custom; from technological process to political rule of law; all such practices possess particular tools (object and action), which aid or abet mobility. In this exhibition, artists reveal the generational impact of a range of physical and psychological ‘tools,’ whose representation and meaning has shifted as a consequence of colonial exploit, religious conflict or ideological extremism. Journey Beyond The Arrow seeks to illuminate the necessary diversity of humanity and its exchange across the globe.

Making New Time, curated by Omar Kholeif, will include works by:

  • Huguette Caland 
  • Lubaina Himid 
  • Barbara Kasten
  • Marwan 
  • Otobong Nkanga
  • Jon Rafman 
  • Akram Zaatari

Responding to the overall theme of Leaving the Echo Chamber, Making New Time is a provocation on how material culture can be reimagined through the lens of a group of artists whose political agency, whose activism and whose astute observations encourage us to extend beyond the limits of belief. The exhibition considers how economies have formed around technological culture, how narrative is created and deconstructed and how these forces enable a reconstitution, or indeed a restitution of a history lost, or even unknown. Drifting in and out of hegemonies and entrenched structures of power; here, the sensorial and the bodily intertwine, becoming archaeological sediments in the landscape of Sharjah, imploring the viewer to consider their complicity in a world that is forever fleeting from our hands.

Look for Me All Around You, curated by Claire Tancons, will include works by:

  • Caline Aoun 
  • Aline Baiana
  • Nikolaus Gansterer 
  • Eisa Jocson 
  • Isabel Lewis 
  • Ulrik López 
  • Carlos Martiel 
  • Wu Tsang  

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. In Look for Me All Around You, what is being ‘looked for’ is not what is being ‘looked at’—if only it could be seen. Standing witness to the imperilment of the contemporary in the atomised space between ‘me’ and ‘you,’ Look for Me All Around You seeks to eschew the sole realm of the retinal embedded within hegemonic structures of looking, learning and feeling. It strives instead through mechanisms of repossession of perception, to reflect and deflect encroaching conditions of dispossession and diasporisation.

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