Roster Includes Major Presentations of Hrair Sarkissian and The Otolith Group, SAF Collection Exhibitions and Collaborations with Artists, Curators and Institutions Around the World Sharjah Art Foundation today announced its summer and autumn 2021 programmes, featuring major solo presentations and group exhibitions by artists from the MENASA region and beyond, as well as international collaborations and new editions of annual programmes highlighting the work of regional and international artists, filmmakers and publishers.
The major summer and autumn exhibitions across the Foundation’s spaces in Sharjah include two group exhibitions drawn from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection curated by the foundation’s director Hoor Al Qasimi that feature past Sharjah Biennial works and recent acquisitions exhibited for the first time; the third iteration of Sharjapan—the Foundation’s four-year collaboration with curator Yuko Hasegawa that introduces aspects of Japanese culture to audiences in Sharjah; an installation of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s Khayyam Fountain in Al Hamriyah Studios, site of the late artist’s final retrospective; the first mid-career survey of photographer and installation artist Hrair Sarkissian; and an exhibition by art collective The Otolith Group exploring the ‘science fiction of the present’.
In addition, the Foundation will expand upon existing collaborations and launch new ones with artists, curators and institutions around the world throughout 2021. Initiatives include a collaboration with MCA Chicago to bring Sharjah Art Foundation’s solo exhibition of artist Bani Abidi’s works in video, photography and sound to US audiences. Annual programmes returning in 2021 include Vantage Point Sharjah, the open call photography exhibition; FOCAL POINT, art book fair and accompanying publishing grant open call; and Sharjah Film Platform, encompassing the Foundation’s annual film festival as well as grant-making and career development initiatives for emerging filmmakers.
Detailed information on the Foundation’s summer and autumn 2021 programmes in Sharjah and around the world follows below.
PRESENTATIONS AND PROGRAMMES AT SHARJAH ART FOUNDATION
24 July–1 October 2021
Galleries 1, 2 & 3 in Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah Art Foundation
The third exhibition in a four-year series titled Sharjapan curated by Yuko Hasegawa for Sharjah Art Foundation, Remain Calm examines modern and contemporary architecture in Japan, exploring ideas that resonate powerfully when the pandemic has made staying at home the ‘new normal’, while disrupting individual connectivity to an outside world that feels fraught with challenges, risk and unknown possibilities.
The exhibition examines architectural projects that date from the thirteenth century to the present, from both historic and contemporary perspectives, through the lens of two key themes: solitude and connectivity. Remain Calm features an expansive design, which includes sculptural models that explore abstract concepts, spatial and performative multi-media installations as well as drawings, photographs and scale models of architectural projects. A model of Sen no Rikyū’s Tai-an tea house serves as the starting point of this survey, which subsequently introduces the work of emergent and established architects Koji Fujii, Togo Murano, Sutemi Horiguchi, Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, Junya Ishigami, onishimaki + hyakudayuki architects, Shingo Masuda and Katsuhisa Otsubo alongside Remain Calm (Compressed +), a performative installation by artist Nile Koetting that explores the nature of protected zones, inviting viewers into a space of heightened senses evoked by elements such as fog, light and moving images.
Sharjah Art Foundation Collection Exhibition: The Rain Forever Will be Made of Bullets
24 July–1 October 2021
Gallery 6, Al Mureijah Art Spaces, Sharjah Art Foundation
Taking its title from a work by Simone Fattal, this exhibition brings together works focusing on the struggles and wars that occurred in the respective artists’ home countries through their exploration of artistic medium and source material. Curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, The Rain Forever Will be Made of Bullets includes works selected from past exhibitions or commissioned for Sharjah Biennials as well as recent acquisitions. Works by Etel Adnan, Simone Fattal and Lala Rukh, shown previously at the Foundation, are joined by a selection of newly acquired sculptures and works on paper by Chaouki Choukini.
Sharjah Art Foundation Collection Exhibition: When I Count, There Are Only You…
24 July–1 October 2021
Gallery 5, Al Mureijah Art Spaces, Sharjah Art Foundation
Taking its title from a work by Farideh Lashai that was itself inspired by Goya’s Disasters of War, this exhibition offers an insight into the radical ideas, visions and perspectives on humanity that inform the work of eight artists represented in the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection. Curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, When I Count There Are Only You… examines the role artists play in society by revealing the most intimate and personal details of their inner thoughts and thus leaving themselves open for public deliberation and interpretation. The exhibition brings together the work of Farhad Moshiri, Farideh Lashai, Iman Issa, Mandy El–Sayegh, Nari Ward, Prajakta Potnis, Rabih Mroué and Rasheed Araeen, including recent acquisitions that have not been previously shown at the Foundation as well as works selected from past exhibitions or commissioned for Sharjah Biennials or other Foundation programmes.
Hrair Sarkissian: The Other Side of Silence 30 October 2021–30 January 2022
Galleries 3 and 4 and public spaces, Sharjah Art Foundation
Currently on view MAMC+ Saint-Étienne Métropole through September 21; travelling to Bonniers Konsthall (26 April–19 June 2022) and the Bonnefanten (Fall 2022–Spring 2023)
For the artist’s first mid-career survey, he has created two major new commissions, Last Seen (2018-2021) commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation and Little Apple (working title) commissioned by the Bonnefanten.
The exhibition also features an expansive presentation of many of the artist’s major artworks produced since 2006, including Unfinished and In Between (both 2006), Execution Squares (2008) and Final Flight (2017–2019). The large-scale photographs of Syrian-Armenian artist Sarkissian are developed using a large format camera—a life-long practice first developed in his father’s photo studio in Damascus growing up.
His continued work in this medium relates to the artist’s interest in the role that ‘chance’ plays in capturing hidden narratives through lens-based media. Acting simultaneously as an archaeologist and storyteller, Sarkissian employs photographic techniques to conjure landscapes that uncover historical traumas, which most often remain unseen. Drawing upon personal and collective memory, Sarkissian’s artworks navigate stories that official records and sources cannot tell.
Through researched and choreographed scenes, he invites the viewer to consider the formal aspects of the image; to ‘breathe in’ their silence, leaving room for one to evaluate what might exist beneath its surface.
Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; and the Bonnefanten, Maastricht, the exhibition is curated by Dr Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation; Dr Theodor Ringborg, Artistic Director, Bonniers Konsthall; and Stijn Huijts, Artistic Director, the Bonnefanten.
Bonniers Konsthall is producing Sarkissian’s first major monograph, edited by Kholeif and Ringborg, which will be released to coincide with the opening in Sharjah.
13 November 2021–13 February 2022
Galleries 1, 2, 5 and 6, Sharjah Art Foundation
Travelling to to the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana (2021) and the Irish Museum for Modern Art, Dublin (2022)
Referencing the African American science fiction novelist Octavia Butler’s legendary Xenogenesis trilogy, this exhibition brings together a selection of key works by The Otolith Group, the London-based art collective consisting of Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. The works on view, created between 2011 and 2018, reflect the artists’ ongoing commitment to creating what they call ‘a science fiction of the present’ through the use of images, voices, sounds and performance. Suspended between fiction, poetry, documentary and theory, The Otolith Group’s post-cinematic films, high–definition videos and multiple screen installations address the global crises of the Racial Capitalocene that have shaped contemporary planetary capitalism.
Xenogenesis was first shown at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in May 2019 and was curated by Annie Fletcher. Its presentation in Sharjah is organised by Van Abbemuseum and Sharjah Art Foundation and co-curated by Annie Fletcher, Director, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation. Original exhibition architecture designed by Diogo Passarinho Studio.
Xenogenesis was previously on view at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Richmond (2020); Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge (2020); and Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne (2020).
Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11 Residency Programme
Al Hamriyah Studios, Sharjah Art Foundation
As a continuation of Tarek Atoui’s major solo exhibition Cycles in 11, presented at Sharjah Art Foundation from September 2020 to April 2021, the artist will invite eight residents from across disciplines and around the world to take part in a residency programme exploring experimental and innovative musical forms.
Through the SAF’s Residency Programme, the Foundation’s Al Hamriyah Studios will operate both as a sound lab and a performance and listening space for the resident musicians, composers and artists to develop new work, either individually or with different audiences in Sharjah.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s Khayyam Fountain
Installed 10 June 2021 (long-term loan)
Al Hamriyah Studios, Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation presents a long-term installation of one of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s most ambitious projects, Khayyam Fountain (2018), in the Foundation’s Al Hamriyah Studios, where the late artist’s final retrospective was presented in 2019.
Paying homage to the 11th century mathematician, astronomer and poet Omar Khayyam, the work interweaves multi-sided shapes—triangles, pentagons and hexagons—to form a tower that rotates precipitously above a hollow base, creating varied refractions of light at different times of the day.
Khayyam Fountain is emblematic of Farmanfarmaian’s six-decade career fashioning luminous abstract sculptures and drawings out of glass, mosaic, paper and fabric, fusing her interests in geometry, Sufism and Islamic architecture.
The project’s long-term installation continues the Foundation’s commitment to invigorating historic architecture in Sharjah with contemporary art, and making available to the public significant contributions of MENASA artists to modern and contemporary art history.
ANNUAL INITIATIVES AT SHARJAH ART FOUNDATION
18 September–18 December 2021
Al Hamriyah Studios, Sharjah Art Foundation
Vantage Point Sharjah 9 (VPS9) is the ninth iteration of Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual photography initiative which supports established and emerging photographers and encourages their engagement with the wider cultural community.
VPS9 invited local and international photographers to submit their work by 3 July 2021 under the following categories: Conceptual, Photojournalism and Documentary, Experimental and Staged Photography. Applicants are free to choose their own theme and artistic approach.
A jury consisting of Ammar Al Attar, Sham Enbashi, M’hammed Kilito and Alia Al Shamsi will make the final selection of images that will be presented in an exhibition opening at the Foundation’s Al Hamriyah Studios on 18 September 2021. One winner in each category will be selected by the jury to receive a prize of USD 1,500.
19 November–27 November 2021
Various locations, Sharjah Art Foundation
The annual film festival Sharjah Film Platform (SFP) supports the growing film scene in Sharjah and the surrounding region by celebrating and sustaining the work of local, regional and international filmmakers through short and feature-length film screenings and awards programme, a public programme of talks and workshops as well as the SFP Industry Hub, an initiative that supports professional development, film production and distribution regionally and internationally.
FOCAL POINT Art Book Fair
9–11 December 2021
Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square, Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation presents the fourth edition of FOCAL POINT, its annual art book fair dedicated to presenting printed matter and products by publishers and artists from across the UAE, the MENASA region and the world. Host to interdisciplinary art publications and independent and alternative practices as well as academic works on art history, theory and criticism, FOCAL POINT furthers the Foundation’s mission to expand understanding of the history of art in the region and its relationship with the wider world. As part of the annual initiative, the FOCAL POINT Publishing Grant, which supports art historical research projects that focus on artists, practices or theoretical content produced in the MENASA region, will open for submissions in summer 2021.
Bani Abidi: The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
4 September 2021–5 June 2022
Featuring formative video, photography, sound works as well as new commissions, this major survey explores the artist’s practice over two decades. Playing the role of a storyteller and urban archaeologist, Abidi explores an emotional and psychological space of satire, absurdity and social commentary. In this exhibition developed in collaboration with Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the artist’s works are imbued with personal and communal narratives shaped by evolving geopolitical relations between India and Pakistan, the historical power struggles of South Asia and American interests in the wider MENASA region. From the specific social and political context of Pakistan, she wrestles with memory of more cosmopolitan times that have been extinguished by ideological and sectarian nationalism as well as new forms of nativist populism. Through her work, she reveals issues that encroach upon struggles for justice in Pakistan, which may resonate with others around the world.
First presented in Sharjah (2019) as Bani Abidi: Funland and co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation and Natasha Ginwala, Gropius Bau Associate Curator, the MCA Chicago presentation of Bani Abidi: The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared is organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi; Natasha Ginwala; and Bana Kattan, Pamela Alper Associate Curator, MCA Chicago.
School of Casablanca
International venues to be announced
Sharjah Art Foundation and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Marokko, ThinkArt and Zamân Books & Curating, initiated the School of Casablanca as a collaborative project exploring the legacy of the Casablanca Art School and its innovative pedagogical methods and exhibition strategies in 1960s Morocco. Launched in 2020 and continuing through 2024, the project includes research residencies, public programmes, a digital archive and a touring exhibition of new works created by the residents as well as an exhibition of historical works by the artists who were originally associated with the Casablanca Art School. The six invited residents are Céline Condorelli, Fatima-Zahra Lakrissa, Marion von Osten, Manuel Raeder, Bik Van der Pol, and Abdeslam Ziou Ziou. Additional details on the artist residencies, archives and travelling exhibitions will be announced in the coming months.
About Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the Foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The Foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions; and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.
Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the Foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The Foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the Foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world. Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. It was named UNESCO’s Arab Capital of Culture for 1998 and the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2019.