Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) has announced details on the programme for this year’s edition of the March Meeting, the Foundation’s annual programme that convenes artists, art professionals, and academics to discuss critical issues in contemporary art. Taking place from 9 to 12 March 2023, March Meeting 2023: The Postcolonial Constellation: Art, Culture, Politics after 1960 examines the forces that have shaped the production and reception of art across the world from 1960 to the present, reconfiguring the conceived geography of global modernism and contemporary art. March Meeting 2023 is concurrent with Sharjah Biennial 15, and performances and events tied to the Biennial will take place during and in the week of March Meeting, 7 through 13 March.
With March Meeting 2023, the Foundation offers a platform for extended conversations around the ideas raised in Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present¸ conceived by the late curator Okwui Enwezor and curated by Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi, which runs through 7 June 2023. The programme also builds on the two previous iterations of March Meeting that were similarly conceived as part of SB15 in relationship to Enwezor’s conception of the ‘postcolonial constellation’: Unravelling the Present (March Meeting 2021) and The Afterlives of the Postcolonial (March Meeting 2022).
By re-examining cultural, political, social and economic histories over the past seven decades, The Postcolonial Constellation examines systemic and structural shifts that have characterized our world and influenced artistic and political practices. This theoretical backdrop offers a discursive space to explore issues on traversing the subordinating effects of colonisation and self-determination; First Nation and Indigenous practices; creolisation, hybridity, and supranational formations, such as the Black Atlantic; and diasporas, exile, and statelessness. These conversations will offer artistic, ideological and philosophical perspectives on decolonisation—a field of scholarship originally developed within postcolonial studies.
“March Meeting 2023 and the other platforms of Sharjah Biennial 15 constitute critical spaces to act on Okwui Enwezor’s idea of ‘thinking historically in the present’—our organising principle for this year’s Biennial. We look forward to convening a global audience in March to further the critical conversations that Okwui sparked through his curatorial practice and scholarship,” said Sharjah Art Foundation President and Director Hoor Al Qasimi.
Featuring nearly 50 speakers spread across four days, March Meeting 2023 will include a dynamic slate of keynote addresses and panel discussions. Select sessions include:
Keynote addresses by Terry Smith (Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney; European Graduate School; and University of Pittsburgh) on renewing African Art discourse within the postcolonial constellation; Margo Crawford (The Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor for Faculty Excellence, University of Pennsylvania) on Black abstraction; and Brent Hayes Edwards (Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University) on Black radicalism and the archive;
A panel discussion on the African, Asian, and Latin American perspectives of the 1960s, focusing on pivotal decolonisation and independence movements. Moderated by Christopher J. Lee (Professor of African History, The Africa Institute), the panel features Mahvish Ahmad (Assistant Professor in Human Rights and Politics, London School of Economics); Zeina Maasri (Senior Lecturer, History of Art, University of Bristol); Jelena Vesić (Independent curator, writer, editor and lecturer) and Zoé Whitley (Director and Curator, Chisenhale Gallery);
An examination of the culture and ceremony of Indigenous Australians and theft of First Nation Australian bodily remains, as discussed by the creators of a play focusing on these issues, The Return, John Harvey (Writer, Brown Cabs), Matthew Lutton (Artistic Director, Malthouse Theatre) and Jason Tamiru (Director and Cultural Custodian, Malthouse Theatre);
A conversation about how artists, writers and cultural producers have responded to the unprecedented mass migration triggered by wars, repressive regimes, economic crises and worsening environmental catastrophe in recent decades. This panel features Tayeba Begum Lipi (Artist, Co-Founder and Trustee of Britto Arts Trust); Heather Igloliorte (University Research Chair in Circumpolar Indigenous Arts, Concordia University); Sonal Khullar (W. Norman Brown Associate Professor of South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania); and Charlene Villaseñor Black (Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA), and is moderated by Terri Geis (Visiting Associate Professor of Art and Art History, NYU Abu Dhabi)
During the week of March Meeting 2023, the Foundation will also present site-specific performances by Kiluanji Kia Henda, Marwah AlMugait, Naiza Khan and more, as well as guided tours of the Biennial’s venues across the Emirate. Additionally, on 8 March the Foundation will host a conversation about this year’s Biennial with Hoor Al Qasimi, Octavio Zaya and Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, as part of International Biennial Association’s IBA Stage series.
More details on the March Meeting schedule, including a list of speakers and events taking place throughout the week, are available here.
This programme is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art and the International Biennial Association.
March Meeting 2023: The Postcolonial Constellation: Art, Culture, Politics after 1960
9–12 March 2023
Africa Hall, Sharjah
For more information on the programme, or to register to attend, please visit sharjahart.org/march-meeting-2023
Registration for March Meeting 2023 is free.
Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present
Sharjah Art Foundation brings together over 150 artists and collectives from more than 70 countries for the 15th edition and 30-year anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial. Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by the Foundation’s Director Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present reflects on Enwezor’s visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial.
Al Qasimi interprets and elaborates on Enwezor’s proposal with a presentation of more than 300 artworks—including 70 new works—critically centering the past within contemporary times. These works, as well as a wide-ranging programme of performance, music and film, activate more than 19 venues in five cities and towns across the emirate of Sharjah: Al Dhaid, Hamriyah, Kalba, Khorfakkan and Sharjah. Among the many venues are sites within Sharjah’s historical quarter; buildings recently restored and transformed by the Foundation including The Flying Saucer and Kalba Ice Factory; and repurposed structures that once served as a vegetable market, medical clinic and kindergarten. Free and open to the public, Sharjah Biennial 15 runs from 7 February through 11 June 2023.
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.
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 nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. Hoor Al Qasimi serves as the Foundation’s President and Director. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
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 Mohammed 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 has been designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.
About Terra Foundation for American Art
The Terra Foundation for American Art, established in 1978 and having offices in Chicago and Paris, supports organizations and individuals locally and globally with the aim of fostering intercultural dialogues and encouraging transformative practices that expand narratives of American art, through the foundation’s grant program, collection, and initiatives.
About International Biennial Association
The International Biennial Association IBA is a non-profit arts association created as a platform for establishing, researching and exchanging knowledge and information necessary for institutions and professionals who plan and curate periodic art events such as biennials and triennials, as well as artists, researchers and others concerned with contemporary art.
Alyazeyah Al Marri