Sharjah Biennial 14

Open from 7 March – 10 June 2019, Sharjah Biennial 14 (SB14) will showcase three unique exhibitions, curated by Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif and Claire Tancons, that explore the possibilities for creating 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.

SB14: Leaving the Echo Chamber:

In popular culture “The Echo Chamber” is a moniker for circuitous news media and its attendant feeds that are reinforced by a closed system, a network that is controlled and governed by private sources, governments and corporations. It is also a metaphor for the historical dominance of Capital and the cultural, social and political systems which dictate its access, production and distribution – this ‘capital’ wooing (and thus privileging) particular image, language, skill, history and geography. Most tangibly, the ‘Echo Chamber’ is the space wherein sound hits and reverberates, where memory and imagination echo across surface, across space, and across time.

‘Leaving the Echo Chamber’ does not propose a “how” to “leave” this context, but rather seeks to put into conversation a series of provocations on how one might re-negotiate the shape, form and function of this chamber, towards a multiplying of the echoes within, such vibration representative of the vast forms of human production — its rituals, beliefs and customs. The 14th Sharjah Biennial begs the viewer to consider: What does it mean to demand alternate images at a time when news saturation is spoon-fed to us by a monopoly of sources? How do we expand our narratives by acknowledging what has been hidden or removed? Moreover, how can we reflect on our own culturally located histories in an era whereby so many individuals have been forced to believe that they must surrender their own agency to the mainstream forces that exist and govern our world?

The echo chamber here could be construed as a modern day Faraday cage – an enclosure that covers conductive material, which prevents transmitting signals. Except here, artists are given the agency to tell stories that echo in a different way, thus creating new surfaces for a multiplicity of chambers revealing differing means of connecting, surviving and sustaining a collective humanity.

Curatorial Overview

Journey Beyond the Arrow
Curated by Zoe Butt


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


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


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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