The Flying Saucer, Sharjah, UAE, 2020. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation

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The Flying Saucer, recently renovated by Sharjah Art Foundation, reopens to the public this month. Reflecting its original silhouette of the 1970s, the architectural landmark features new exterior spaces, as well as community gathering spaces which include a multi-activity café around a sunken courtyard with a library and multiple screening walls.

The venue will open with the presentation of the site-responsive multimedia installation, Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Nowhere Less Now3 [flying saucer], and will host film screenings, events, workshops and other learning programmes over the coming months.

The star-shaped structure, acquired by the Foundation in 2012 and used as an exhibition venue since 2015, has gone through a series of modifications since its opening in 1978 to house various businesses such as a café and restaurant, newsstand, gift shop, supermarket and pharmacy. The Flying Saucer has long been part of the collective cultural memory and identity of Sharjah. Its architecture draws on the space-age influence of 1960s and 1970s western literature and popular culture, and Brutalist architecture of the same period. Notable elements of its design include a wide circular dome that seems to hover above a ring of eight columns, a star-shaped canopy projecting beyond a fully glazed panoramic façade and a bright and open interior space supported by angled V-shaped pillars.

The renovation project, which began in 2018, continues the work started by the Foundation in 2015 to restore the building to its original silhouette. This intervention also includes two new additions designed to complement the building spatially and programmatically and support its function as a community hub and resource. The first addition is the Platform, an open, outdoor public space designed to act as an extension of The Flying Saucer, that will host social events, performances and outdoor art installations. The second major addition to the building is the underground Launch Pad, a community space that will house:

* The ‘Green Crater,’ a sunken circular courtyard filled with lush vegetation and natural light.
* A convivial, multi-activity café overlooking the ‘Green Crater’.
* An extensive curated library.
* Various programmes including film screenings, workshops, performances and readings to be held in the open café or library spaces, or in one of several enclosed ‘pods,’ including the ‘Meeting Pod’ designed for smaller convenings; the larger, multipurpose ‘Activation Pod’ and a ‘Craft Pod’ equipped for art workshops and hands-on activities.

Together, these dynamic spaces will invigorate the building with a wealth of new programmatic possibilities, not only as an architecturally vibrant exhibition venue but also as a hub for gathering, creating and learning. Reviving the flexibility, centrality and rich socio-cultural history of this iconic building, this new transformation aims to re-integrate The Flying Saucer within the daily lives of Sharjah residents.

Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Nowhere Less Now3 [flying saucer], which responds to the building’s architecture, will be on view at The Flying Saucer from 26 September to 26 December 2020. Commissioned and produced by Artangel, London; Sharjah Art Foundation; and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania, the episodic work addresses the dark legacy of British colonialism and the artist’s journey through history in search of (the) truth. Nowhere Less Now3 [flying saucer] uses the architectural elements of The Flying Saucer to narrate an alien’s landing on Earth and its subsequent attempts to understand human behaviour through geometry, gestures and movements. Nowhere Less Now was originally presented in 2012 at the Tin Tabernacle in Kilburn, London, by Artangel while the work’s second iteration, Nowhere Less Now2, was unveiled in 2014 at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) as part of a group exhibition titled The Red Queen.

The renovation of The Flying Saucer was led by Sharjah Art Foundation and SpaceContinuum Design Studio, helmed by SpaceContinuum founder Mona El Mousfy.

Access to The Flying Saucer is free and open to all.

Artwork Images

The Flying Saucer, Sharjah, UAE, 2020. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation

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The Flying Saucer, Sharjah, UAE, 2020. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation


The Flying Saucer, Sharjah, UAE, 2020. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation


The Flying Saucer, Sharjah, UAE, 2020. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic. Image courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation

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