Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation


Tamawuj, n. Arab. (1) a rising and falling in waves. (2) a flowing, swelling, surging, or fluctuation. (3) a wavy, undulating appearance, outline, or form.


Taking place from January 2016 to January 2018, Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj (SB13) encompasses exhibitions, projects and education programmes in five locations, expanding the structure of the previous Sharjah biennials across space and time. SB13 includes exhibitions and public programmes in two acts, one in Sharjah (10 March–12 June 2017) and one in Beirut (October 2017– January 2018), as well as the SB13 School, a year-long education programme that spans the west, central and eastern regions of Sharjah.

Tamawuj also seeks to mobilise ongoing conversations. Four interlocutors in as many cities have organised projects around keywords that are integral to SB13’s conceptual framework. Kader Attia investigated water in Dakar (8 January 2017), Zeynep Oz will consider crops in Istanbul (opening 13 May 2017), Lara Khaldi will study earth in Ramallah (opening 10 August 2017) and Ashkal Alwan will reflect on the culinary in Beirut (opening 15 October 2017).

In the lead-up to the Biennial, researchers in Sharjah as well as the four other cities have assembled materials relating to the keywords for chip-ship, a digital repository available to SB13 artists, and an online publishing platform,, will host articles, media and essays as well as compendia related to the four keywords throughout the Biennial for artists, researchers and the general public.

New Commissions

For SB13, curator Christine Tohme has invited over 70 artists to engage with the curatorial theme of tamawuj. Over 25 artists have created new site-specific works in Al Mureijah Square and other SAF buildings and courtyards across the arts and heritage areas that have been used for the Sharjah Biennial since 2003. Commissioned works will also be on display at The Flying Saucer, and for the first time, Old Sharjah Planetarium and Al Hamriyah Studios.

New works will be presented by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Abbas Akhavan, Tamara Al Samerraei, Maria Thereza Alves, Abdelkader Benchamma, Roy Dib, Vikram Divecha, Koo Donghee, Mandy El Sayegh, İnci Eviner, Fehras Publishing Practices, Daniele Genadry, Shadi Habib Allah, Christoph Keller, Mahmoud Khaled, Nesrine Khodr, Metahaven, Hind Mezaina, Mochu, Oscar Murillo, Joe Namy, Khalil Rabah, Raqs Media Collective, Marwan Rechmaoui, Roy Samaha, Massinissa Selmani, Setareh Shahbazi, Zhou Tao, The Otolith Group, Mario García Torres, Paola Yacoub and Fathallah Zamroud.

In addition, artists Christoph Keller, Metahaven and Zhou Tao have been commissioned to produce works which will be completed over the course of the year, and artists Noor Abuarafeh, Iman Issa and Karine Wehbé will contribute with publications that will be released in the same time period.

Sharjah Art Foundation New Art Spaces

The opening of SB13 will mark the inauguration of SAF’s new multi-functional artist workspaces and exhibition areas in Al Hamriyah. With approximately 2,500 square feet of studio space connected by an open-air courtyard, Al Hamriyah Studios will provide additional facilities and space for local community events and SAF’s growing activities and programming.

SB13 Opening Week Programme

Sharjah Biennial 13 will officially open on Friday, 10 March with a series of events including performances, films, lectures and the annual March Meeting. Bringing together Binna Choi, Ala Younis, Maha Maamoun and Charles Esche, the Desiring Institutions panel discussion will consider whether pragmatics or ideology is at the heart of the desire to institute or organise around
common objectives and shared infrastructure. Mario García Torres’s installation and DJ lecture Five Feet High and Rising will narrate an esoteric cultural history of rivers, charting and merging different stories of movement, migration and fragmentation. Ossama Mohammed’s film Step by Step (Khutwa Khutwa) exploring the lives and fears of Syrian villagers trapped between the hardships of farming and the challenges of religious and political ideologies will be screened, with a Q & A session following. After the SB13Awards ceremony, which will announce the recipients of the 2017 Biennial prize, Roy Dib’s theatre performance, set in a city that rarely experiences times of peace, will explore an enduring sense of longing, loss and absence in the face of uncertain return.

On Saturday, 11 March, the programme starts with a conversation between the Biennial interlocutors – Lara Khaldi, Zeynep Öz, Kader Attia and Christine Tohme – encapsulating the ideas that inspired the SB13 curatorial framework. Raqs Media Collective’s public reading (presented in English, Arabic and Urdu) of The Necessity of Infinity recounts an important but neglected exchange, Al As’Ilah Wa’l Ajwibah [Questions and Answers], between polymaths Al Beruni and Ibn Sina debating whether we are alone in the universe. Cooking Sections rethinks which edibles can contribute to a flexible understanding of the changing landscape and presents a special series of lunch dishes around the idea of desertification for March Meeting 2017. In the evening, a boat trip will take place to the new Al Hamriyah Studios, where the film A Present from the Past: 20 September by Kawthar Younis will be screened.

Saturday, 12 March begins with DESIGN EARTH’s lecture performance Of Oil and Ice, a geostory that speaks to the intertwined concerns of climate change and energy-intensive desalination industries in the Arabian Gulf. Rogue Planet, a collaborative lecture performance by Arjuna Neuman and Shahira Issa, is composed of shared letters and based on the premise of a rogue planet entering the solar system and breaking daily life into long loops and unstable fragments. The evening programme features a screening of Ahmed Elghoneimy’s film 2 or 3 Things I Forgot to Tell You, followed by a music performance by Karkhana, whose lineup features artists from Beirut, Cairo and Istanbul inspired by jazz, tarab and psychedelic rock.

On Monday, 13 March, the second Desiring Institutions panel will bring together Laurence Rassel, Francis McKee, Lina Attalah and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez to discuss resilient small-size institutions, slow institutions and networks of solidarity and mutual affinity that have to be built today in order to modify the present moment. Noor Abuarafeh’s SB13 commissioned novel, The Earth Doesn’t Tell Its Secrets (2017), which revolves around the narrator’s fascination with the long-running myth of Palestine’s first museum, will be launched, and Bird Watching, an acoustic investigation into the prison of Saydnaya (in Syria) and the latest in a series of Lawrence Abu Hamdan's live audio essays examining the contemporary politics of listening and the importance of the earwitness, will be staged. The evening closes with Clean City*, a performance directed by Anestis Azas & Prodromos Tsinikoris in which immigrant women living in Athens and working as cleaners relate personal accounts to challenge stereotypes and expose racism. DJ Sets by Bedouin Records: Salem Rashid, SASA and uplow will follow the performance.

The tenth annual March Meeting presentations on Tuesday, 14 March will see five correspondents – Lina Atallah (Madrassa Collective), Gökcan Demirkazık, Latifa Al Khalifa, Renan Laru-an, and Aykan Safoğlu – each give a ten-minute presentation related to the conceptual framework of SB13 and grounded in the correspondent’s area of expertise.

*Clean City is made possible by the Onassis Cultural Centre Athens (co-producer and touring supporter) and the EUROPOLY project (co-producer).

Film Programme

The SB13 Film Programme focuses on the documentary and independent form, with a selection of films related to the Biennial keywords: water, earth, crops and culinary. Throughout the exhibition period (10 March—12 June 2017) screenings will take place every Saturday at Mirage City Cinema, SAF’s outdoor cinema. Featured works include films directed by Tamer El Said, Nujoom Al Ghanem, Mohanad Yaqubi, Abbas Kiarostami, Semih Kaplanoğlu, Nacer Khemir, Heung-Soon Im, Godfrey Reggio, Hajooj Kuka and Iara Lee.

Education Programme

The Saturday SB13 Education Programme will offer dedicated programmes tailored to adults and children as well as schools and youth centres, all designed to further public engagement with the curatorial themes of the Biennial and foster appreciation of the site-specific commissions. Through a wide range of discussion sessions, excursions, architectural tours, workshops and courses, the Adult Education Programme will address such topics as art and social change, archiving iconic architecture, performance and translation of thoughts into movements and gestures.

Additionally, the year-long SB13 School (15 October 2016—15 October 2017) is an educational initiative designed to help local infrastructures and communities in the middle, central and eastern regions of the Emirate of Sharjah. Organised collaboratively with local artists, practitioners, institutions and companies,SB13 School workshops are rooted in the four keyword of the Biennial (water, crops, earth and culinary). Focused on crafts, culinary arts, digital arts, farming and music, the programme takes place across four venues: Al Madam Art Centre, Al Hamriyah Art Centre, Kalba Art Centre and Sharjah Arts Square.

Community and Outreach Programme

As part of Sharjah Biennial 13, the Community and Outreach Programme (18 March–20 May 2017) will offer a variety of engaging community workshops and excursions inspired by the SB13 keywords. These immersive workshops, emphasising public participation, urban research, sustainability and creativity, will take place in Al Mureijah Square, Arts Square, The Urban Garden, #SAFneighbourhood and the surrounding areas.

About Sharjah Biennial

Sharjah Biennial is organised by Sharjah Art Foundation, which brings a broad range of contemporary art and cultural programmes to the communities of Sharjah, the UAE, and the region. Since 1993, Sharjah Biennial has commissioned, produced and presented large-scale public installations, performances and films, offering artists from the region and beyond an internationally recognised platform for exhibition and experimentation.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

Since 2009, SAF has built on the history of cultural collaboration and exchange that began with the first Sharjah Biennial in 1993. Working with local and international partners, Sharjah Art Foundation creates opportunities for artists and artistic production through core initiatives that include Sharjah Biennial, the annual March Meeting, residencies, production grants, commissions, exhibitions, research, publications and a growing collection. Our education and public programmers focus on building recognition of the central role art can play in the life of a community by promoting public learning and a participatory approach to art. All our events are free and open to the public. Sharjah Art Foundation is funded by the Department of Culture and Information, Government of Sharjah.
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Media Contacts
Sharjah Art Foundation:

Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa: T +971 6 544 4113, ext. 25 /


Katrina Weber Ashour: T +1 212 627 1455, ext. 1653 /