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Hoor Al-Qasimi | Sharjah Biennial | Sharjah Art Foundation

Hoor Al-Qasimi and Sharjah Biennial 16 and this 5 Woman

Hoor Al-Qasimi and Sharjah Biennial 16 and this 5 Woman

An all-female panel of five leaders in their fields have been given the task of bringing together the contemporary artworks and artists that will steer the discourse around SB16, with Sheikha Hoor al Qasimi at the helm as Biennial Director and President of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

IranArt : In September, the Sharjah Art Foundation officially unveiled its star-studded panel of curators for the 16th Sharjah Biennial, slated to run from February to June 2025.

An all-female panel of five leaders in their fields have been given the task of bringing together the contemporary artworks and artists that will steer the discourse around SB16, with Sheikha Hoor al Qasimi at the helm as Biennial Director and President of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

The panel is made up of Natasha Ginwala, artistic director of Colomboscope, Colombo, and associate curator at Gropius Bau, Berlin;

Amal Khalaf, director of programmes at Cubitt, London, and civic curator at the Serpentine Galleries;

Zeynep Oz, an independent curator in Istanbul and New York;

 Alia Swastika, director of the Biennale Jogja Foundation, Yogyakarta; and

Megan Tamati-Quennell, a curator of modern and contemporary Maori and indigenous art in New Zealand.

حور القاسمی بینال شارجه

With little more than a year until the biennial begins, this panel of many firsts is already in the process of weaving the event together, each hoping to contribute their niche commentary while at the same time navigating intersections in thematic terrain; collaborating towards a many-voiced, nuanced representation of the upcoming edition’s conceptual framework.

responses and methodologies have been shaped over time and hopefully adapt some of them into my own practice going forward.”

Tamati-Quennell is notably the Biennial’s first indigenous curator. “I think the distinct contribution I bring to SB16, based on my curatorial experience, is my work as a collection curator for more than 30 years at a national level, and a depth of knowledge of art and artists, particularly First Nations art and art from the Global South – the part of the world I come from.”

Furthermore, as the future of the international biennial model veers increasingly towards a role as a platform for global (yet, also local) contemporary social, cultural, and political debate, a curator’s unique expertise and consciousness in this regard has become all the more instrumental when contributing to a collective narrative.

structures of power, commissioning these projects to take place in different contexts – from art spaces to educational institutions as well as spaces of labour, care, and community – organising around migration, education, and housing,” explains Bahraini curator Khalaf of her contributions. “For SB16, I hope to bring work and commission artists to think through possibilities of how we can intentionally practise the futures we long for collectively.”

Indonesian curator and writer Swastika, who over the past 10 years has expounded on issues and perspectives of decoloniality and feminism, is particularly excited to collaborate with an all-female panel.

“I have had some opportunities to work with all-female curatorial teams, and for me, they have always been amazing experiences,” she says. “There are so many possibilities that come out from the diverse backgrounds and approaches, but we also see similarities in how we want to reclaim biennales as a voice for the unheard and to bring out the unforgotten. I feel that our sisterhood itself is already very political!”

Natasha Ginwala, who is currently working on delivering the finishing touches for Colomboscope 24 – Sri Lanka’s leading interdisciplinary art festival – concurs. “All of us have created models animated through principles of solidarity, feminism, anti-colonialism, ground-up infrastructure, and building self-organisation for years, and it’s exciting to bring all of that together and see what comes out of it.” Ginwala is the first South Asian curator in Sharjah Biennial history.

حور القاسمی Hoor Al-Qasimi  ناتاشا گینوالا Natasha Ginwala امل خلف Amal Khalaf زینپ اوز Zeynep Oz آلیا سواستیکا Alia Swastika مگان تاماتی-کوئنل Megan Tamati-Quennell

exactly our edition will stand out in comparison to other editions,” Tamati-Quennell says, “but I can only reiterate that with the five of us, this edition will be pluricentric and polyphonic, with each of the curators able to give voice to a distinct project and perspective.”

“For many of us in the region, Sharjah has been a destination we have returned to and it has generated many waves of conversations over the years, as well as possibilities of longer-term productions,” Oz says. “As institutions and events do, Sharjah Biennale has evolved over the years, and the scope of the conversation has been expanding in ripples in a wavelike length. For me, the most interesting has been to see how it has been so organic, and I appreciate how many of the relations Sharjah Art Foundation has are longer-term conversations that keep building on previous chapters, which brings about a feeling of familiarity and trust.”

Ginwala too is appreciative of SAF’s deep commitment to artistic inquiry, publishing, and historical scholarship over the years.

“There are several cultural practitioners I have been engaged with who have been supported by the platforms of Sharjah Art Foundation and this has led to substantial productions, multifaceted collaborations, as well as de-centralised knowledge exchange,” she says.

“The biennial is a way to build and sustain such connective bridges with people I hold respect for in the field, those who tirelessly uphold and transform creative spaces in vulnerable conditions. There are alliances to maintain and pressing conversations to take forward.”

“I have attended every edition of the biennial since 2005, and as a Bahraini curator, this biennial is the one that introduced me to so many practices and shaped and kept me connected to many artists from the region and beyond,” Khalaf says. “I am excited by the commitment that Sharjah Art Foundation has made to continue the rigour and ambition of the biennial to commissioning and developing artistic, film, community, and music programming throughout the year, and I am also excited to be part of the ecosystem, to build on relationships developed with communities and audiences in the lead-up to the biennial in 2025.”

Hoor Al-Qasimi | Sharjah Biennial

The festival’s previous 30th anniversary edition – themed Thinking Historically in the Present – was originally conceived by Nigerian curator and art critic Okwui Enwezor. However, after his death in 2019, the baton was passed to Sheikha Hoor, who implemented his vision. From a wide-ranging programme of performances, films, art installations, and participatory fixtures, SB15 featured works of more than 150 artists and collectives representing 70 countries displayed at several venues in the emirate.

More information on the SB16 festival’s theme, venues, and participating artists have yet to be announced, but Sharjah Art Foundation’s commitment to broadening the scope of contributions to the ever-evolving contemporary global art discourse is one that all five curators take pride in being a part of.

By Shaahima Fahim/ The National

Hoor Al Qasimi Sharjah Art Foundation Hoor Al-Qasimi Sharjah Biennial 16 16th Sharjah Biennial
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