8–10 November 2018
Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square, Sharjah

Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) announces the first edition of FOCAL POINT, an annual art book fair that presents, engages, circulates, sells and distributes varied printed matter and products by publishers from the region and across the world.

Running from 8 to 10 November 2018, FOCAL POINT will include an art book fair where invited publishers—both independent and mainstream—will present their products. The fair will be accompanied by three days of public programming, which will feature a series of talks, screenings, a book launch, a lecture-performance, art projects, an open studio, and themed educational workshops. In addition, the collaborative symposium It Begins with a Story: Artists, Writers, and Periodicals in Asia (FOCAL POINT edition), developed by Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), will look towards the histories and present of publishing in the wider Asia region. This partnership with SAF marks Asia Art Archive’s first official collaboration in the UAE and GCC region.

As this year’s edition of FOCAL POINT focuses on independent and alternative publishing practices, the event will take place in the intimate setting of the heritage building Bait Obaid Al Shamsi in Sharjah’s Arts Square. Originally built in 1845 as a residential house, its two levels and courtyard space were renovated in the late 1990’s and then again in 2017 to be used for artist studios and exhibition spaces. The location has often served as a venue for past Sharjah Biennials and SAF exhibitions.

Very few platforms locally and regionally cater to the interdisciplinary nature of publishing. FOCAL POINT will fill that gap by offering a broad perspective on art publishing, with independent and alternative publishing practices featured alongside a select number of larger, more established publishing houses. All the participating art book publishers and institutions will explore what it means to read, write, mediate, edit or publish printed matter under the capacious label of art.

A list of this year’s art book publishers and institutions, organised according to the sections at the fair, follows below:

With its six curated sections (including SAF/EDIT), EDIT is a principal part of the art book fair. The artist institutions and platforms in EDIT will present content in multiple languages from their own networks and regions. Participants include Chimurenga, African Art Book Fair, Khoj, Vasl, Terremoto and Sharjah Art Foundation.

The SAF/EDIT section within EDIT will showcase publications by Ashkal Alwan, Raking Leaves, Semiotexte, Half Letter Press, Book Works UK, OOMK, Kayfa Ta, SouthAsia.Art, 98editions/Makhzin, Vestoj, Mantiq of the Mantis, Rusted Radishes, Pages, Migrant Journal, Jabal Amman Publishers, MARG, 3030 Press Publishing, Bananafish, locale, Lars Mueller, Al-Adab, Banat Collective, Eman Al Eghfeli, Sarah AlFarhan and Zainab AlMashat, Khalid Mezaina, Warde, Amina MENIA, Tulip Hazbar, Hessa Al Ajmani, Mouza Al Hamrani, Ayman Zedani, Shefa Al Hammadi and Nasir Nasrallah, and Areej Kaoud.

This section will present independent publishers from across the world, including Kulte Editions, Blaft Publications, Kaph Books, Triple Canopy, Saqi Books, Tara Books and Bon Art Book Fair.

This section is comprised of organisations such as non-profit institutions, art centres and galleries from Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi that are engaged in publishing artist books, exhibition catalogues, artist monographs and other printed matter on art. Among the participants are Sharjah Museums, Emirates Fine Art Society, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Art Jameel, Alserkal Avenue, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, The Third Line, Grey Noise, Lawrie Shabibi and Warehouse 421.

FOCAL POINT continues Sharjah Art Foundation’s commitment to the medium of print. Since its establishment in 2009, the foundation has published a variety of works on modern and contemporary art, including artist books, catalogues and scholarly volumes. The foundation supports the research-based efforts of visiting artists, curators and scholars and publishes programmes for all biennials and curated exhibitions, which are made available to local, regional and international audiences interested in contemporary art and publishing.

Further details regarding FOCAL POINT’s programming and schedule will be announced soon. To learn more, visit sharjahart.org.

This event is free and open to the public.

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 organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons.

Media Contact

Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa
+971 (0) 6 5444113