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The 8th Sharjah Biennial was the third edition headed by President and Director Hoor Al Qasimi, who in 2002 had introduced fundamental changes to the concept of the Biennial, which already existed since 1993. The curatorial team included Dubai-based artist Mohammed Kazem, participant of several previous editions of the Sharjah Biennial, Swiss curator and critic Eva Scharrer, and Jonathan Watkins, at the time director of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK.
Under the theme Still Life - Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change, the 2007 Sharjah Biennial addressed "the growing social, political and environmental challenges our world is facing due to excessive urban development, political and economic ambitions, and the thoughtless misuse, abuse and exhaustion of natural resources." However, the 8th edition of the Biennial was "not intended as a judgmental exercise, telling people how to live their lives; rather aimed to problematize current environmental concerns towards a greater understanding of our responsibilities with respect to nature."
The exhibition, which featured approximatly 80 participants, its supplementing film programme, symposium, and workshops focused on the "renewed role of art in addressing a wide range of issues that directly affect, in an alarming magnitude, life as we know it." Site-specific art projects in public space were presented for the first time in a Sharjah Biennial.
(Quotes from the Sharjah Art Foundation website)
4 April - 4 June 2007
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Sharjah Art Museum, Expo Centre Sharjah, Heritage Area
Still Life: Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change
Biennial Director: Hoor Al Qasimi
Artistic Director: Jack Persekian
Curators: Mohammed Kazem, Eva Scharrer, Jonathan Watkins
Film programme curator: Mark Nash
79 artists and groups
Negar Azimi, Charles Esche, Geeta Kapur
Symposium: Art and Ecology
5 and 6 April 2007, Expo Centre Sharjah
In collaboration with the Royal Society of Arts, London, and Latitudes, Barcelona; following the RSA Art and Ecology Symposium at the London School of Economics, Dec. 2006
Sharjah Biennial 8: Still Life, Part I
Edited by Serene Huleileh. Paperback, 356 pages, 87 visuals, 24 x 16 cm. English and Arabic.
Sharjah Biennial 8: Still Life, Part II
The second book documents Sharjah Biennial 8 as it was on view. Edited by Joseph R Wolin, Paperback, 567 pages, 299 visuals, 24 x 16 cm. English and Arabic.
General coordinator: Hisham Al-Madhloum
(Director of the Directorate of Arts, Sharjah Department of Culture and Information)
Coordinator, Communications: Mahita El Bacha Urieta
Administrative Manager: Reem Shadid
Artists' coordinator: Lara Khaldi
Exhibition Layout: Mona El Mousfy
Sharjah Department of Culture and Information under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah.
Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst, and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region, and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art.
The foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators, and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions; and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.
Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional, and international developments in contemporary art.
The foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres.
A growing collection reflects the foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.
Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors, and individual patrons. All events are free and open to the public.
Sharjah is the third-largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation, and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as a hub of culture in the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, it was named UNESCO's “Arab Capital of Culture” and was designated the UNESCO “World Book Capital” for the year 2019.
Cover image on top: A part of Amal Kenawy, Non-Stop Conversation, 2007.
© Photos: Universes in Universe, unless otherwise indicated