Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), is a curator who established the Foundation in 2009 as a catalyst and advocate for the arts in Sharjah, UAE, as well as regionally and internationally. With a passion for supporting experimentation and innovation in the arts, Al Qasimi has continuously expanded the scope of the Foundation over its ten-year history to include major exhibitions that have toured internationally; artist and curator residencies in visual art, film and music; commissions and production grants for emerging artists; and a wide range of educational programming in Sharjah for both children and adults. In 2003, Al Qasimi co-curated Sharjah Biennial 6 and has since continued as Biennial Director. Under Al Qasimi’s leadership, the Sharjah Biennial has become an internationally recognised platform for contemporary artists, curators and cultural producers. Her leadership in the field led to her election as President of the International Biennial Association (IBA) in 2017, an appointment that transferred IBA’s headquarters to Sharjah. Complementing her role at SAF, Al Qasimi also serves as the President of The Africa Institute and Chair of the Board for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, which inaugurated its first edition in November 2019. Al Qasimi served as curator of the second Lahore Biennale, which opened in January 2020 across the city of Lahore, Pakistan.
Since its establishment in 2009, Al Qasimi has curated several major exhibitions mounted by Sharjah Art Foundation, including Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11, Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket, Amal Kenawy: Frozen Memory (2018–2019), the major retrospective Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist (2017), Yayoi Kusama: Dot Obsession (2016–2017) and Robert Breer: Time Flies (2016–2017). Other notable projects include 1980–Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, the UAE Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) and the solo exhibitions Simone Fattal (2016), Farideh Lashai (2016), Rasheed Araeen: Before and After Minimalism (2014) and Susan Hefuna: Another Place (2014), presented at Sharjah Art Foundation. Al Qasimi co-curated the landmark exhibition Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: Two Suns in a Sunset (2016), which debuted in Sharjah and travelled to Jeu de Paume in Paris, France; Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany; and IVAM in Valencia, Spain. She also co-curated the major survey shows When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965) in Cairo, Egypt (2016) and The Khartoum School: The Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan (1945–Present) in Sharjah, UAE (2016–2017).
Al Qasimi serves on the Board of Directors for MoMA PS1 in New York, USA; Kunst-Werke Berlin e. V. in Germany; and Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, Lebanon. She is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the College of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Sharjah and is a member of the advisory boards for Khoj International Artists’ Association, New Delhi, India and Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan.
Currently, she serves as a member of the Prince Claus Award Committee (2016–present). She has previously served on the juries and prize panels for the PinchukArtCentre’s 5th edition of the Future Generation Art Prize (2019), Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (2019), Maria Lassnig Prize (2017), Mediacity Seoul Prize (2016), Hepworth Wakefield Prize for Sculpture (2016), Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale Shorts (2016), Videobrasil (2015), Dubai International Film Festival (2014) and Benesse Prize (2013).
Al Qasimi has an MA in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art, London, UK (2008). She holds a diploma in painting from the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (2005) and received her BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK (2002).