Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) presents Unsettled Objects, an exhibition featuring recently acquired and rarely seen works from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection. Anchored by major acquisitions from more than two decades of the Sharjah Biennial, the Foundation’s year-round exhibitions and other core commissioning programmes, the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection is one of the preeminent public collections of modern and contemporary art in the Middle East. Unsettled Objects, which opened on 12 March, takes the circular form of the Foundation’s newly restored architectural landmark, The Flying Saucer, in a design that evokes the experience of a revolving carousel. Occupying both indoor and outdoor space, The Flying Saucer also comes to life at night with an intervention by artist Prem Sahib on the building’s facade. The exhibition is on view until 15 June 2021.
The exhibition derives its title from a significant recent acquisition by the late conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten, Unsettled Objects (1968–1969), projection filmed in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum. Here, Baumgarten interrogates the method that museums adopt to categorise, store and present artefacts. We are asked to consider: where do these objects come from? Are the keepers of these entities entitled to hold them, and if so, under what jurisdiction?
Curated by Omar Kholeif, SAF Director of Collections and Senior Curator, this expansive exhibition brings together the work of over 30 artists from across the globe whose art helps us consider these questions while provoking a re-imagining of the ways in which history is narrated and explored. The artists featured in Unsettled Objects work in a variety of mediums across a broad expanse of time. They explore concepts of mapping and archaeology, of memory and selfhood, of sight and absence. As the title suggests, their art unsettles our understanding of history by proposing that art has the potential to encourage a contoured view of a collective and inclusive society. Works on display include recent acquisitions from Yüksel Arslan, Dawoud Bey, Huma Bhabha, Huguette Caland, Lubaina Himid, Tala Madani, Lionel Wendt and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
In addition to exploring these questions, Unsettled Objects offers an opportunity to engage with a range of works in the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection, a public collection encompassing an exceptionally diverse body of more than 1,300 works across art movements from the 1920s to the present day, including substantial holdings of experimental, complex and multi-part installation works.
Reflecting Sharjah’s history as a major regional trade route, the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection acts as a node connecting an ever-expanding range of art forms and visual cultures. Together, the works in the collection reflect a South/South and East/East perspective on the history of modern and contemporary art, that is simultaneously inclusive, intergenerational and transcultural.
The complete list of artists in Unsettled Objects includes Sarah Abu Abdallah, Rasheed Araeen, Yüksel Arslan, Thuraya Al-Baqsami, Lothar Baumgarten, Semiha Berksoy, Dawoud Bey, Huma Bhabha, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Huguette Caland, Mounir Canaan, Tony Chakar, Marcos Grigorian, Mona Hatoum, Kamala Ibrahim Ishag, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Lubaina Himid, Mohammed Kazem, Amal Kenawy, William Kentridge, Omer Khairy, Astrid Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Tala Madani, Trevor Paglen, Bruno Pacheco, Michael Rakowitz, Prem Sahib, Mohan Samant, Hrair Sarkissian, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Saule Suleimenova, Lionel Wendt, Akram Zaatari and Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara.
Additional information about the participating artists and the works featured in the exhibition can be found here. A curated film programme expanding the themes of the exhibition will be screened online throughout the exhibition period. Details will be announced soon.
This exhibition is part of Sharjah Art Foudation’s 2021 spring programme which also features March Meeting (MM 2021): Unravelling the Present, the solo exhibitions Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11, Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket and Rayyane Tabet: Exquisite Corpse.
For more information, visit sharjahart.org.
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 organizations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions 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 Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, it was named UNESCO's 'Arab Capital of Culture' and has been designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.
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Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa