The Ground, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space


Sharjah Art Foundation presents Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11, a major solo exhibition that marks over a decade of work created by sound artist Tarek Atoui in collaboration with the Foundation and the surrounding Sharjah community. Curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, the exhibition, which runs from 19 September 2020 to 10 April 2021, centres around experimental and innovative musical forms and offers audiences opportunities to learn about and explore instrument-making, compositional structure and musical collaboration.

The works in the exhibition represent the culmination of the artist’s ongoing exploration of different methods of listening, composition and performance. The instruments created by Atoui are the product of extensive research into music history and tradition as well as collaborations with different experts. Challenging established ways of listening through innovative approaches to sound, the instruments also build on the artist’s earlier project WITHIN, which grew out of years of work with Deaf culture. This project, originating in Sharjah, investigated how deafness can influence the way sound performance, space and instrumentation are understood.

Previously scheduled from March to June 2020, the exhibition will now run for an extended period of six months. During the exhibition, the heritage house Bait Al Serkal, a principal Foundation venue located in Sharjah’s arts area, will operate as both a sound lab and a performance and listening space informed by the local tradition of hospitality. In Sharjah’s east coast city of Kalba, another sound lab will be set up close to the emirate’s natural reserves and archaeological sites. Cycles in 11 will also be the starting point for a regional and international residency programme that will extend into 2022. Musicians, composers and artists will be invited to develop new work for the residency, either individually or with different audiences in Sharjah.

Exploring new methods of collaboration and production, Atoui’s work often revolves around performances that develop from his extensive research into music history and tradition. His use of sound challenges and expands established ways of understanding and experiencing this medium.

The artist has taken part in a number of Foundation events, exhibitions and residencies over the years, including March Meeting 2012 and 2014; three Sharjah Biennials; Visiting Tarab, Performa 11 commission (2011–2012); Bytes and Pieces, arts and technology workshop (2010); and a Sharjah Art Foundation residency (2008).

Recently awarded the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth / Flag Art Foundation Prize, Atoui has participated in a number of exhibitions and festivals, including the Okayama Art Summit, Japan (2019); 58th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia (2019); 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Sharjah Biennial 9, 10 and 11 (2009, 2011, 2013); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012); and Performa 5, New York (2011). He has also performed at Garage Moscow (2018); CCA NTU, Singapore (2017); Tate Modern, London (2016); Serpentine Gallery, London (2012); Sharjah Art Foundation (2011); Mediacity Seoul (2010); New Museum, New York (2010); and La Maison Rouge, Paris (2010). Atoui was one of the artistic directors of the Bergen Assembly, Norway (2016), and STEIM Studios, Amsterdam (2007–2008). He studied contemporary and electronic music at the French National Conservatory of Reims (2007–2008).

Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11 is part of Sharjah Art Foundation’s autumn season. Also opening on 26 September is Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Nowhere Less Now3 [flying saucer], a site-responsive multimedia installation that marks the reopening of the iconic Flying Saucer building. These two exhibitions will be followed by Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket, a major survey of the artist’s seminal works across film, photography and installation, which opens on 2 October. Sharjapan 3 – Remain Calm: Tranquility, Solitude and Connectivity in Japanese Architecture, the third in a four-year series curated by Yuko Hasegawa, opens on 27 November and examines modern and contemporary architecture in Japan. This season will also have the third editions of the annual film festival Sharjah Film Platform (SFP), running from 14 November to 21 November 2020, and the annual art book fair FOCAL POINT.

To ensure the comfort and safety of our community and adhere to social distancing guidelines, visitors interested in viewing any of the exhibitions should book a slot in advance on this link or through our website. Enhanced sanitation and disinfection will take place between visits in line with recommendations from health authorities. The exhibitions are free to attend and open to all. However, booking in advance is highly encouraged. Read more about our new safety policies here.

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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 non-profits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

About Sharjah

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 Muhammad 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 was designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.

Media Contacts

Sharjah Art Foundation:
Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa,, +971(0)65444113