Dr Omar Kholeif, PhD, CF FRSA, is an author and artist; a curator and cultural historian, and a broadcaster who has curated more than 100 exhibitions of visual art, architecture and digital culture. Kholeif’s research has chiefly focused on the intersection of visual culture with critical-race, ethnicity, and post-colonial theories. Their interest revolves around the language of expression of artists who hail from the ethnic Global Majority.
Dr Kholeif is the Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), where they oversee collection strategy, development, conservation, and acquisition as well as exhibitions and related research. Before joining the Foundation, Kholeif was Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London; Senior Curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester; Artistic Director at Arab British Centre, London and founding Director of the UK’s Arab Film Festival (now Safar). Kholeif has served as an artistic director and consultant for numerous international film festivals and development labs including the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and BFI, London.
Select curatorial projects at SAF include, Lubaina Himid: Plaited Time / Deep Water (2023), In the Heart of Another Country (2022-2023); Hrair Sarkissian: The Other Side of Silence (2021-2023); Lawrence Abu Hamdan: The Sonic Inage (2022), and Art in the Age of Anxiety (2020). Independent exhibition and research projects include, My Life in the Metaverse (2022); Perpetual Inventory, Volume 1: An Exercise in Looking (2022); David Lynch: My Head is Disconnected (2019); Time, Forward! at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019); Two Days After Forever: Cyprus Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Before History: Art Dubai (2015); Focus: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, Armory Show, New York (2015) and the Liverpool Biennial (2012).
Kholeif is the author or editor of over 40 books of prose, art or criticism, which have been translated into 12 languages. Recent volumes include, Goodbye, World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age (2018), Art in the Age of Anxiety (2021), Helen Khal: Gallery One and Beirut in the 1960s (with Carla Chammas and Rachel Dedman) (2023), and Internet_Art: From the Birth of the Web to the Rise of NFTs (2023). They are the series editor of imagine/otherwise, a peer-reviewed volume of critical biographies on under-represented female artists, published by Sternberg Press.
Kholeif teaches at research universities globally, including, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford; University of Chicago; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and Hunter College, City University of New York, among others. Kholeif holds MAs from the University of Glasgow and the Royal College of Art, London and a PhD from the University of Reading and the University of the Arts Zurich. They are the co-founding director of www.artpost21.com, a platform for art, technology, and social justice.
Lubaina Himid: Plaited Time / Deep Water (2023)
In the Heart of Another Country (2022-2023)
Hrair Sarkissian: The Other Side of Silence (2021-2023)
Lawrence Abu Hamdan: The Sonic Image (2022)
Unsettled Objects (2021)
Art in the Age of Anxiety (2020)
To Speak with Many Tongues (2020)
Sharjah Film Platform (2019)
Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019)
March Meetings: 2012, 2013, 2019 and 2021