Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, is a curator who established the Foundation in 2009 as a catalyst and advocate for the arts, not only in Sharjah, UAE, but also in the region and around the world. With a passion for supporting experimentation and innovation in the arts, Al Qasimi has continuously expanded the scope of the Foundation to include major international touring exhibitions; artist and curator residencies in visual art, film and music; commissions and production grants for emerging artists; publications and publication grants; performance and film festivals; architectural research and restoration; and a wide range of educational programming in Sharjah for all age groups.
In 2003, Al Qasimi co-curated Sharjah Biennial 6 and has remained Biennial Director ever since. She is currently curating the upcoming Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present (2023). Under her leadership, Sharjah Biennial has become an internationally recognised platform for contemporary artists, curators and cultural producers. Her leadership in the field led to her election as President of the International Biennial Association (IBA) in 2017, an appointment that transferred IBA’s headquarters to Sharjah. In addition to her role at the Foundation, Al Qasimi also serves as the President of The Africa Institute and President and Director of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, which inaugurated its first edition in November 2019.
Since its establishment in 2009, Al Qasimi has curated major solo exhibitions at Sharjah Art Foundation, including CAMP: Passages through Passages (2022); Khalil Rabah: What is not (2022); Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11 (2020–2021); Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket (2020–2021); Amal Kenawy: Frozen Memory (2018–2019); the major retrospective Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist (2017–2018), which travelled to KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2020), Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2020–2021) and the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Étienne, France (2021); Yayoi Kusama: Dot Obsessions (2016–2017); and Robert Breer: Time Flies (2016–2017). Other notable projects at the Foundation include 1980–Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, originally curated for the UAE Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), and the solo exhibitions Simone Fattal (2016), Farideh Lashai (2016), Rasheed Araeen: Before and After Minimalism (2014) and Susan Hefuna: Another Place (2014). Among her co-curated exhibitions in Sharjah are The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis (2021–2022) and The Khartoum School: The Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan (1945–Present) (2016–2017).
In 2020, Al Qasimi curated the second Lahore Biennale. International exhibitions she has co-curated include Kamala Ibrahim Ishag: States of Oneness at Serpentine Gallery, London (2022–2023), which built upon a previous exhibition of Ishag’s work she co-curated for Sharjah Art Foundation (2016–2017) that traveled to Prince Claus Fund Gallery, Amsterdam (2019–2020); Bani Abidi: The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared at MCA Chicago (2021–2022), which followed Bani Abidi: Funland at Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); the landmark exhibition Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: Two Suns in a Sunset (2016), which debuted in Sharjah and traveled to Jeu de Paume, Paris; Haus der Kunst, Munich; and IVAM, Valencia; and When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965), Palace of Arts, Cairo (2016), and MMCA, Korea (2017).
Al Qasimi serves on the Board of Directors for Kunst-Werke Berlin e. V. and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. She is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah, and is a member of the advisory boards for Khoj International Artists’ Association, New Delhi; Darat al Funun, Amman; Independent Film Council, ICA, London; and the Eye Art & Film Prize Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (2022–2024).
Previously, she was a board member for MoMA PS1, New York (2010–2021), and the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013–2016). She was also a member of the Prince Claus Award Committee (2016–2020) and served on juries and prize panels for the MAXXI Bulgari Prize (2022), PinchukArtCentre’s fifth edition of the Future Generation Art Prize (2019), Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (2019), Maria Lassnig Prize (2017), Mediacity Seoul Prize (2016), Hepworth Wakefield Prize for Sculpture (2016), Berlin International Film Festival–Berlinale Shorts (2016), Videobrasil (2015), Dubai International Film Festival (2014) and Benesse Prize (2013).
Al Qasimi holds an MA in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art, London (2008). She earned a diploma in painting from the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2005), and received a BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2002).