Home » Sharjah a platform for artists’ conversation on Global South: Hoor Al Qasimi

Sharjah a platform for artists’ conversation on Global South: Hoor Al Qasimi

by Dubaiforum

By Guendalina Dainelli

SHARJAH, 27th February, 2023 (WAM) — The Sharjah Biennial has returned to the city of Sharjah with its 15th edition, drawing international art lovers to the third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

The exhibition kicked off on 7th February will continue until 11th June, featuring over 150 artists and art collectives from more than 70 countries, and showcasing over 300 artworks, including 70 new works.

The biennial takes place across 19 venues in 5 cities in the emirate of Sharjah, including sites in the historical quarter, newly restored buildings, and repurposed structures.

The theme of the biennial, “Thinking Historically in the Present,” reflects on the late Okwui Enwezor’s visionary work and centers the past within contemporary times.

“Sharjah became a platform for a lot of people to come together in a conversation on the Global South”, Hoor Al Qasimi, President, and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM). “We want to engage and bring forward a lot of issues affecting societies around the world in a way that is approachable to the large public.”

Regarding the comparison with the great archetypes of the biennials, such as Biennale di Venezia, created in 1895, she affirmed, “Sharjah kicked off with a traditional country representation, but when I got involved, I realised there are so many issues when you talk about nations. Some people live as refugees, there are mixed marriages or different ethnicities living in a same country. How do you define a nationality? This is one of the things I changed, I removed the national representation to create a more curated exhibition.”

“Biennials now, at least many of them across the world, really focus on cities, communities and what they can do for locals, boosting a cultural space within a city. As per my background, I am an artist, I am a painter, this is the way I wanted it to change,” she added.

According to Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial is a platform free to leave the echo-chamber and stretch beyond the perimeter of preconised formats and models. “Here we have a platform where we try to push the boundaries. We want to engage and bring forward a lot of issues affecting societies around the world in a way that is approachable to the large public.”

The debate on post-colonialism is another important fil rouge running all along the history of Sharjah Biennials, Al Hoor stated, adding that “We all grew up with the Western point of view. Now we are trying to write our own history and to talk about our history from our point of view, and Sharjah became a platform for a lot of people to come together in a conversation on the Global South.”

Hoor Al Qasimi concluded by affirming that there is room to improve synergies between Sharjah and Venice. “We had many collaborations with Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. I personally curated the UAE pavilion in Venice in 2015. I go and to visit the event every year, including Venice Biennale of Architecture. I am always willing to support my colleagues while exhibiting or curating. I think there could be more synergies for the future.”

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