Sharjah Biennial 16 Curators

Images (left to right): Natasha Ginwala (Photo: Victoria Tomaschko), Amal Khalaf (Photo: Christa Holka), Zeynep Öz (Photo: Öykü Çakar-Smith), Alia Swastika (Photo: Yudha Kusum) and Megan Tamati-Quennell (Photo: Ola Thorsen, US Embassy New Zealand)


Opening in February 2025, Sharjah Biennial 16 will be curated by: Natasha Ginwala (Artistic Director, COLOMBOSCOPE, Colombo); Amal Khalaf (Director, Cubitt, London and Curator at Large, Public Practice, Serpentine Galleries, London); Zeynep Öz (independent curator, Istanbul and New York); Alia Swastika (Director of the Biennale Jogja Foundation, Yogyakarta); and Megan Tamati-Quennell (curator of modern and contemporary Māori and Indigenous art, New Zealand). The curators will propose distinct but interconnected projects that will together represent a diverse and global range of perspectives across the spectrum of contemporary art.

The curators are developing projects in dialogue with each other, using the Biennial’s 30-year history as a platform for artistic experimentation and discourse. Ginwala, Khalaf, Öz, Swastika and Tamati-Quennell will individually invite a selection of artists across a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, to highlight both leading and emerging talents in visual art, performance, music and publication. Continuing the Foundation’s engagement with the many communities throughout Sharjah, the Biennial will once again activate venues across the emirate.

Natasha Ginwala is a curator, writer and researcher. She is the Artistic Director of COLOMBOSCOPE, Colombo (2019–ongoing) and Associate Curator at Large at Gropius Bau, Berlin (2018–2024). She also served as Artistic Director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021) with Defne Ayas. Ginwala has been part of curatorial teams for Contour Biennale 8 (2017), documenta 14 (2017), 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014) and 8th Taipei Biennial (2012). She co-curated international exhibitions at e-flux, Sharjah Art Foundation, Hamburger Bahnhof - Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart, ifa Gallery, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, L’ appartement 22, Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi, MCA Chicago, 56th Venice Biennale, SAVVY Contemporary and Zeitz MOCAA. Ginwala is a widely published author with a focus on contemporary art, visual culture and social justice.

Amal Khalaf is a curator and artist who serves as Director of Programmes at Cubitt (2019–present) and Civic Curator at the Serpentine Galleries (2009–present), both in London. Here and in other contexts she has developed residencies, exhibitions and collaborative research projects at the intersection of arts and social justice. Recent projects at the Serpentine include the launch of Support Structures for Support Structures (2021), Radio Ballads (2019–2022) and Sensing the Planet (2021). She curated the Bahrain Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale (2019) and co-directed the Global Art Forum at Art Dubai (2016). She is a trustee of Mophradat, Athens, and not/nowhere, London, and a founding member of the GCC art collective. Her work, exhibitions and research have also been presented at MoMA PS1, New York; Sharjah Art Foundation; Whitney Biennial, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris; Berlin Biennale; Fridericianum, Kassel; and New Museum, New York, among many others.

Zeynep Öz is a curator and writer. She was the co-founder and director of the Spot Production Fund, Istanbul (2011–2017), during which time she curated the series ‘Produce’ (I, II, III), commissioning over 30 projects. She curated the off-site Sharjah Biennial 13 project Bahar in Istanbul (2017) as an SB13 interlocutor and has edited and published numerous publications within the scope of the ‘Produce’ series and Bahar. Other curatorial projects include Abou Farid’s War, TBA21 on st_age (2021); BACA exhibition of Marwan Rechmaoui’s work, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, which travelled to Sharjah Art Foundation (both 2019); Pavilion of Turkey, 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Aichi Triennale 3 (2016); and Greatest Common Factor, SALT, Istanbul (2016). Öz taught at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul (2015–2020), and served on the curricular and selection committees of the Home Workspace Program, Ashkal Alwan. 

Alia Swastika is a curator, researcher and writer whose practice over the last 10 years has expanded on issues and perspectives of decoloniality and feminism. Her different projects involve decentralising art, rewriting art history and encouraging local activism. She works as the Director of the Biennale Jogja Foundation, Yogyakarta, and continues her research on Indonesian female artists during Indonesia’s New Order. She established and was Program Director for Ark Galerie, Yogyakarta (2007–2017). She was co-curator for the Biennale Jogja XI Equator #1 (2011); co-artistic director of the 9th Gwangju Biennale (2012); and roundtable curator for contemporary art exhibitions for the Europalia Arts Festival (2017), including presentations at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam; MuHKA, Antwerp; and SMAK Ghent, Belgium. Her research on Indonesian women artists during the New Order was published in 2019.

Megan Tamati-Quennell is a writer and curator of modern and contemporary Māori and Indigenous art. During her 33-year curatorial practice, she has held positions at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Govett Brewster Art Gallery. Although Tamati-Quennell’s extensive exhibition history is anchored strongly in New Zealand, her expertise spans transnational contemporary First Nations art. She has worked on many international projects, including in Australia, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States. Her research interests include contemporary Māori art; Māori modernism; Māori women artists, 1930 to today; international First Nations art; First Nations and non-western art in transnational contexts; and First Nations art curatorial praxis. She is of Te Ātiawa, Ngāi Tahu and Kāti Māmoe Māori descent.

Sharjah Biennial 16 will take place from February to June 2025. Additional details will be announced in the coming months.