The most extensive presentation of works from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection to date opens on 15 July 2023, following its debut at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in November 2022. For its presentation in Sharjah iteration, In the Heart of Another Country has been reimagined to include new acquisitions and restored works, many of which are on view for the first time. Spanning all six galleries in Al Mureijah Art Spaces, the exhibition features over 150 works by more than 60 artists across three generations, and is on view through 24 September 2023.
Over the past three decades, Sharjah Biennial and Sharjah Art Foundation have provided an internationally recognised platform for artists underrepresented in the global art canon, while offering perspectives from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Through these years, the Foundation has established an archive of contemporary thought and form generated by artists through commissions and exhibitions, performances and conversation and its public collection of modern and contemporary art. This exhibition identifies key themes evident throughout the collection and brings them together in an exploration of artists whose work engages with concepts of longing, belonging and rootedness.
Through three thematic chapters, the exhibition examines the increasingly mutable notion of home. The artists herein have traversed migratory routes from South and West Asia, through Africa and the Caribbean, and many now live in dispersed sites, far from where they first believed that they belonged. Creating a travelogue through multiple sites, histories and geographies that link the Global Majority, In the Heart of Another Country displays a re-imagining of a once colonised world, exploring the politics of place and placelessness through myriad art forms and genres, including painting, portraiture, architecture and abstraction, from the twentieth century to the present. Recently restored installations are displayed alongside contemporary acquisitions, narrating a communal story of kinship amongst artists—one often developed against a backdrop of political turmoil and social unrest.
Drawing inspiration from the late artist and author Etel Adnan’s landmark memoir, In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country (2004), the exhibition charts sentiments of longing, memorial and homecoming through a constellation of works that unfold across borders, both real and imagined. From the tessellating architectural structures conceived by Saloua Raouda Choucair to the sensuous abstraction found in the paintings of Huguette Caland, these forms convene in space and in dialogue with the arched architectures of Sonia Balassanian, whose work is being presented at the Foundation for the first time. A significant geometric abstraction by Marcos Grigorian is shown alongside Adam Henein’s delicate drawings on papyrus. Between these visual journeys are extensive presentations of the reconfigured body seen in self-portraits by Rasheed Araeen and Amal Kenawy, whose evocative images reveal the possibilities of distinguishing the self and the other.
Questions of nationalism, space and refuge emerge in illuminating work by Halil Altindere and in the textured seascape of Minam Apang. Through the gathering of these forms and stories, a sensory choreography emerges, one that emphasises the affinity of belonging to a collective diasporic imagination. Here, home is seen as a proposition—a site of becoming, albeit one constantly subject to interpretation and interrogation.
Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, the exhibition is curated by Dr Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation. This exhibiton has been made possible by Invest Bank.
Artists featured in the exhibition include:
Ahmed Omar Addow
Latif Al Ani
Saloua Raouda Choucair
Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim
Kamala Ibrahim Ishag
Nam June Paik
Anwar Jalal Shemza
An extensive publication, co-published by Deichtorhallen Hamburg and Snoeck and edited and co-authored by Dr Omar Kholeif, is available now. Contributors include Bani Abidi, Skye Arundhati Thomas, Stephanie Bailey, Anne Barlow, Lubaina Himid, Chris McCormack, Hrair Sarkissian and Sofia Victorino. Forewords are by Hoor Al Qasimi and Dirk Luckow, and Nawar Al Qassimi has written the afterword. The publication is available in SAF stores as well as on Snoeck or on Diechtorhallen.
Visiting the exhibition
15 July – 24 September 2023
Venue: Galleries 1 to 6, Al Mureijah Art Spaces
Admission is free.
Alongside In the Heart of Another Country, Sharjah Art Foundation will offer a series of workshops inspired by the artists featured in the exhibition as part of its Learning Programme this summer as well as a public closing event reflecting on the themes of the exhibition with key scholars and academics.
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. 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.
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 Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. It was named UNESCO's Arab Capital of Culture in 1998 and the UNESCO World Book Capital in 2019.
Alyazeyah Al Marri