March Meeting 2021 update

The March Meeting 2021 (MM 2021): Unravelling the Present sessions are now available online. A vital annual forum for contemporary art, the 13th edition gathered more than 50 artists, curators, art historians and critics to examine the history of the Sharjah Biennial and the future of the biennial model.

To watch the recorded sessions, visit the March Meeting 2021 programme page or follow this link.

On the occasion of March Meeting 2021, the Foundation published a series of 11 essays, selected through the March Meeting open call, that expand on the theme Unravelling the Present. The March Meeting Papers are available to pre-order and view on this link.


Sharjah Art Foundation’s March Meeting 2021 (MM 2021) ran from 12 to 21 March featuring online talks, panels and presentations as well as on-site film screenings at the Foundation’s venues. Usually organised as a three-day convening of artists, curators and art practitioners to explore critical issues in contemporary art, this edition of March Meeting took place over 10 days and set the stage for the 15th edition of Sharjah Biennial (SB15): Thinking Historically in the Present.

Originally scheduled for March 2020, MM 2021 examined the past 30 years of Sharjah Biennial as an initiative and a model for disrupting the power of artistic monolingualism and horizon for developing another theoretical space for thinking historically in the present. Titled Unraveling the Present, this edition of Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual gathering brought together former Sharjah Biennial curators, artistic directors and artists as well as art historians and art critics to examine the role, place and impact of the Sharjah Biennial in the region and the global contemporary art scene at large. MM 2021 also explored the evolution of the Sharjah Biennial, focusing on its shift away from traditional modes of curating and displaying art by activating non-institutional spaces, moving to non-geographic models of representation as well as the development of a year-round programme enabled by the establishment of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

MM 2021 is an integral part of the framework for Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present laid out by Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019) in spring 2018 and that he continued to develop until his untimely passing. Reflecting on his tremendous impact on contemporary art, Enwezor’s visionary work transformed contemporary art paradigms and laid out an ambitious intellectual project that influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial. Enwezor saw the Sharjah Biennial as a model for displacing older, Western-based biennials by offering a critical alternative that was committed to the future of the art exhibition as a relevant platform for engaging with history, politics and society in our global present. SB15 will be realised by Hoor Al Qasimi as curator in conjunction with the SB15 Working Group and Advisory Committee.

March Meeting 2021 Speakers and Participants

MM 2021 speakers and participants include Tarek Abou El Fetouh (curator); Mona Al Khaja (artist); Hisham Al Madhloum (Chairman, Sharjah Arts Collection); Noora Al Mualla (Director of Learning and Research, Sharjah Art Foundation); Hoor Al Qasimi (President and Director, Sharjah Art Foundation); John Akomfrah (artist, filmmaker); Yousif Aydabi (Cultural Advisor, Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre); Sammy Baloji (visual artist and Co-founder of the Lubumbashi Biennale); Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU); Zarina Bhimji (artist); Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Director, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art - Cerruti Collection); Lucrezia Cippitelli (scholar, curator); Iftikhar Dadi (Associate Professor, History of Art and Director, South Asia Program, Cornell University); Catherine David (Deputy Director, National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou); Omar Dewachi (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University); Manthia Diawara (Professor, NYU, and filmmaker); Bongiwe Dhlomo–Mautloa (artist, curator); Anita Dube (artist, curator); Ehab Ellaban (Director, Center of Arts, Cairo); Reem Fadda (Director, Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation); Coco Fusco (artist, writer and Professor, Cooper Union School of Art); Elizabeth Giorgis (Associate Professor, University of Addis Ababa); Thembinkosi Goniwe (Assistant Professor of Art History, Rhodes University); Hou Hanru (Artistic Director, MAXXI); Yuko Hasegawa (Artistic director, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts); Salah M. Hassan (Director, The Africa Institute, Sharjah and Goldwin Smith Professor, Cornell University); Ryan Inouye (Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation); Eungie Joo (Curator of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Art); Geeta Kapur (art critic, curator); Mohammed Kazem (artist); Omar Kholeif (Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation); Adrian Lahoud (Dean, School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, London, Co-chair, Rights of Future Generations Working Group and curator, first Sharjah Architecture Triennial); Peter Lewis (curator); Arshiya Lokhandwala (art historian, curator and Founder, Lakeeren Art Gallery); Margarita Gonzalez Lorente (Vice Director, 13th edition of Havana Biennial and Curator, International Contemporary Art, National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana); Amina Menia (artist); Gabi Ngcobo (curator, educator); Otobong Nkanga (artist); Chika Okeke-Agulu (Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University); Jack Persekian (Director, Al Ma'mal Foundation); Qudsia Rahim (Executive Director, Lahore Biennale Foundation and Director, Lahore Biennale); Uzma Z. Rizvi (Associate Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies); Enrique Rivera (Director, Biennial of Media Arts of Santiago); Alex Dika Saggerman (Assistant Professor, Rutgers University) Nada Shabout (Professor, Art History and Coordinator, Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative, University of North Texas); Sadia Shirazi (Cornell University and Whitney Independent Study Program); Suha Shoman (Founder and Chair, Darat Al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation); Aisha Stoby (curator, researcher); Alia Swastika (curator); Rayyane Tabet (artist); John Tain (Head of Research, Asia Art Archive); Ming Tiampo (Professor, Art History, Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University and Co-Director, Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis); Christine Tohmé (Founding Director, Ashkal Alwan); Françoise Vergès (author, public educator, decolonial feminist); Andrea Wallace (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter); Octavio Zaya (Executive Director, Cuban Art Foundation); and Tirdad Zolghadr (Associate Curator, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Artistic Director, Sommerakademie Paul Klee).

Spring 2021 Exhibitions

Coinciding with MM 2021, the exhibitions Rayyane Tabet: Exquisite Corpse, curated by SAF Senior Curator Ryan Inouye, and Unsettled Objects, curated by SAF Director of Collections and Senior Curator Omar Kholeif, also opened on 12 March 2021. Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket and Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11, both curated by SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi, remained on view through 10 April 2021.

Additional information

MM2021 was open to all and free to attend.