Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Biennial 15 (SB15), titled Thinking Historically in the Present, reflects on Enwezor’s visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and established an ambitious intellectual project that has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial. Bringing together more than 150 artists from over 70 countries, SB15 will take place in 16 venues across the emirate of Sharjah.
For Enwezor, the contemporary art exhibition provided a means to engage with history, politics and society in our global present. He envisioned the invitation to curate this edition of Sharjah Biennial as a way to reflect on and contribute to the Biennial’s history and that of the overarching Foundation, and their role in addressing the need for institutional models outside of the West that support dialogue and the production and presentation of contemporary art responsive to our times.
Enwezor proposed commissioning 30 works for SB15 to celebrate Sharjah Biennial’s 30-year anniversary and to activate this critical platform through the development of new productions. In line with this framework, 30 artists have been invited to embark on commissions for SB15: John Akomfrah, Kader Attia, Sammy Baloji, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carolina Caceydo, Destiny Deacon, Manthia Diawara, Coco Fusco, Hassan Hajjaj, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Isaac Julien, Amar Kanwar, Bouchra Khalili, Mohammed Ibrahim Mahama, Kerry James Marshall, Steve McQueen, Almagul Menlibayeva, Aline Motta, Wangechi Mutu, Philippe Parreno, Doris Salcedo, Berni Searle, Yinka Shonibare, Vivan Sundaram, Fatimah Tuggar, Hajra Waheed, Barbara Walker, Nari Ward and Carrie Mae Weems.
More than 150 artists from diverse cultures will build on Enwezor's idea of the postcolonial constellation and offer instances of critical reimagination of the history as well as the present. The participating artists will offer unique perspectives that interconnect regions, histories and practices. A robust programme of film, music and performance, to be announced later this year, will accompany the exhibition.
SB15 is curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, with the support of the SB15 Working Group, comprised of Tarek Abou El Fetouh (independent curator); Ute Meta Bauer (professor and Founding Director of NTU CCA Singapore); Salah M. Hassan (professor and art historian, Cornell University, and Director of The Africa Institute, Sharjah); Chika Okeke-Agulu (professor and art historian, Princeton University); and Octavio Zaya (independent curator, art writer and Executive Director of the Cuban Art Foundation). Al Qasimi and the Working Group are overseeing the development and implementation of the Biennial with an Advisory Committee that includes Sir David Adjaye (architect) and Christine Tohmé (Director, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut).
As another integral part of Enwezor’s plans, the 2022 and 2021 iterations of March Meeting—the Foundation’s annual convening of artists, curators and arts practitioners to explore critical issues in contemporary art—served as a collective prelude to the upcoming SB15. March Meeting 2021: Unravelling the Present examined the 30-year history of the Sharjah Biennial and the future of the biennial model while March Meeting 2022: The Afterlives of the Postcolonial discussed the legacies of colonialism as well as emerging issues that have impacted recent global cultural, aesthetic and artistic practices. March Meeting 2023, scheduled from 9 March to 12 March, will continue the exploration of the SB15 themes while the exhibition is on view.
SB15 runs from 7 February to 11 June 2023, with opening week events from 7 February to 12 February. Please register here to receive updates.
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
Jawad Al Malhi
Monira Al Qadiri
Farah Al Qasimi
Mounira Al Solh
Au Sow Yee
Pablo Bartholomew and Richard Bartholomew
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi
Tania El Khoury
Nabil El Makhloufi
Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Laura Huertas Millán
Reena Saini Kallat
Kiluanji Kia Henda
Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Nusra Latif Qureshi
Lee Kai Chung
Kerry James Marshall
Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi
Pak Khawateen Painting Club
Anita Pouchard Serra
Jasbir Puar and Dima Srouji
Wendy Red Star
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum
The Living and the Dead Ensemble
Hank Willis Thomas
Akeim Toussaint Buck
Carrie Mae Weems