Sharjah Art Foundation’s (SAF) extensive spring and summer programmes for 2017 include touring exhibitions and several international co-commissioned and supported projects alongside Act I of Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj (SB13), on view at SAF through 12 June. Curated by Christine Tohme, the Biennial features the works of over 70 artists presented in exhibitions and events in Sharjah, as well as four off-site projects organised by different interlocutors. Kader Attia launched the first project, which focused on the keyword ‘water’, in Dakar (8–9 January 2017), Zeynep Öz leads the Istanbul programme on crops (13 May – 10 June, opening week programme running between 13–16 May), Lara Khaldi addresses the subject of earth in Ramallah (10 August 2017), and Ashkal Alwan examines the culinary in Beirut (October 2017). Additionally, Act II of Tamawuj opens in Beirut in October 2017.
When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965) is on view until 30 July at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Deoksugung, Seoul. Following on from its inaugural presentation at the Palace of Arts, Cairo in September 2016, the presentation of the exhibition in Seoul is organised by MMCA in collaboration with SAF. Curated by by Joowon Park, Director of MMCA,When Art Becomes Liberty explores the art of the Egyptian surrealists and their extraordinary legacy. Tracing the impact of the movement on both the modern and contemporary art of Egypt as well as situating its role within the international network of surrealists, the exhibition also examines aspects of Egyptian modernity and its interconnectedness with international twentieth-century artistic and social movements from a non-Eurocentric perspective.
On the final leg of its international tour, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige: Two Suns in a Sunset is on view at IVAM, Valencia until 27 August. This major exhibition is co-produced by Jeu de Paume (Paris), Sharjah Art Foundation, Haus der Kunst (Munich) and Institut Valencià d'Art Modern. Grounded in the context of Beirut and events close to the artists' personal lives, Two Suns in a Sunset reflects their ongoing interrogation of imagery affected by war and violence, representation and history. Featuring a wide selection of works on paper, photographs, sculpture, sound and video installations created from the 1990s till the present day, the show establishes thematic, conceptual and formal bridges between the artists’ various investigations and experiments.
do it بالعربي [bil’Arabi] will be activated this spring and summer at Riwaq, Ramallah (9–16 May) and Townhouse, Cairo (9 July–9 August). Over 70 regional artists, including Etel Adnan, Hassan Sharif, Amir Nour, Ali Cherri, Hassan Khan, Dia Batal, Hassan Meer, Jorge Tacla, Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, Fouad Elkoury and Safaa Erruas, were invited to write instructions which could be used by the public to create works of art. This new iteration of the ongoing publication and exhibition project, originally founded and curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 1993, builds on the presentation of previous iterations at Darat al Funun, Amman; Al Riwaq, Manama and Sharjah Art Foundation. The upcoming edition in Ramallah sees local artists Dalia Taha, Bashar Zarour, Sami Zarour, Shada Safadi and Ala’ Al Baba invite adults and children, families and students to activate the previous instructions as well as new ones they have created. The project will be further activated by community centres across Jaba’ and Asira Ashimaliyah, two villages that work closely with Riwaq.
International Co-Commissions and Supported Projects
In addition to its own curatorial initiatives, Sharjah Art Foundation has co-commissioned and supported international projects, including presentations at the 57th Venice Biennale exhibition VIVA ARTE VIVA (13 May–26 November 2017) of the work of three artists: Hassan Sharif, Abdullah Al Saadi and Rasheed Araeen.
A foundational figure of contemporary art and culture in the United Arab Emirates who moved between roles as an artist, educator, critic and writer, the late Hassan Sharif (1951–2016) participated in seven Sharjah Biennials over the past 25 years. An extensive exhibition of his work, supported by Sharjah Art Foundation, will be presented at the 57th Venice Biennale. In autumn 2017, SAF will present the largest retrospective of Hassan Sharif’s work to date (4 November 2017–3 February 2018), spanning his diverse output from the 1970s to 2016. His early newspaper caricature and comic strip drawings, ‘semi-system’ works, performances, paintings and ‘urban archeology’ objects will be presented alongside artworks specifically commissioned by SAF.
The Foundation has also supported the participation of Abdullah Al Saadi and Rasheed Araeen at the 57th Venice Biennale. Al Saadi has participated in four Sharjah Biennials and was featured in the 2014 solo exhibition Al Toubay at SAF, which explored how the need for companionship can lead even to relationships with inanimate objects such as stones. These objects represent the various animals that can later become companions on yet another journey. The hardships of these travels are reflected in the Stone Slippers (2013), and the artist’s diaristic accounts and drawings depict the life of a gypsy or nomad continuously travelling and searching.
Araeen’s influential 2014 survey at SAF—Before and After Minimalism – traced his evolution as a painter in Karachi to his shift towards minimalism in London and ultimately to his international recognition and achievements as a post-minimalist sculptor. Featuring his early paintings and sculpture, documentation of participatory and performance works and his widely-recognised geometric forms, the exhibition at the Venice Biennale brings renewed attention to his practice.
At documenta 14, Naeem Mohaiemen premieres two interrelated moving image works co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. In addition to his three-channel video installation Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017) in Kassel, the artist presents his first fiction film Tripoli Cancelled (2017) in Athens. Exploring the relationship between imagination and the regeneration of hope, the work follows the protagonist’s daily routine, which consists of writing letters, staging scenes and reading from a weathered copy of Watership Down.
At documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, Rasheed Araeen presents Shamiyaana–Food for Thought: Thought for Change (2016–2017), a new project supported by Sharjah Art Foundation. Under canopies inspired by the shamiyaana (a traditional Pakistani wedding tent) and distilled to a few colours and geometric patterns that appear in his recent work, the artist invites people to sit together and enjoy a free meal while reflecting on possible scenarios for social change. Recipes from around the Mediterranean are cooked on site in collaboration with Organisation Earth.
Wael Shawky continues his exploration and interrogation of historical narratives in The Song of Roland: The Arabic Version (2017), a large-scale musical and theatrical performance co-produced by SAF that will premiere at the Theater der Welt 2017 festival on 26 May and then tour in Europe before opening in Sharjah in Spring 2018. The performance is based on the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland, which has been translated into classical Arabic and will be brought to life by over 20 fidjeri singers and musicians performing in the traditional style of Arabian Gulf pearl divers. The project builds on Shawky’s remarkable trilogy Cabaret Crusades (2010/2012/2015), in part supported by SAF, and his performance Dictums 10:120 (2013), commissioned for Sharjah Biennial 11.
Radouan Mriziga explores the relationship between dance and construction and envisions the moving body as measure, maker and medium of expression in 7 (2017), showing 17–20 May at Kaaitheater, Brussels. The work concludes a trilogy of performances beginning with 55 (2014), included in The Time is Out of Joint (2016), an exhibition at SAF curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh. In addition to co-producing the performance in Brussels on 17 May, SAF will be presenting its own performance of the work at SAF’s iconic building The Flying Saucer at a later date. As part of the SAF Residency Programme, which offers visiting artists and art practitioners a dedicated outpost in Sharjah for reflection and experimentation, SAF hosted a ten-day residency that provided crucial rehearsal and production support for Mriziga’s performance.
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