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About 'Belonging', the theme of SB7
By Hoor Al Qasimi, President & Chief Director, Sharjah Biennial 7
(Extract from the Preface in the catalogue)
The 7th Sharjah Biennial addresses issues of belonging, identity, and cultural location. These are not new issues, but our current culture of mobility, mass migration, and so-called globalisation—which threatens the erosion of culturally distinctive places and the international cultural flows of the postcolonial world—make these issues more pressing than ever. We are now territorialized in a way that has serious consequences for our collective and individual identities. As individuals, many of us are increasingly affected by issues of belonging that are related to geography, culture, and borders, the implication being that the link between identity and place has become problematic.
Art inhabits the border and provides a means for exploring and questioning issues at the core of our existence. The main part of the 7th Sharjah Biennial looks at preconceived ideas about identity and place that are assumed in imperial, patriarchal, nationalist, or fundamentalist discourses: What does it mean to belong to a culture? What does it mean to speak of 'a culture’, 'a people', 'a tribe', 'a nation'? How are the local, the regional, and the global interconnected? Can new spatial metaphors convey the new sense of dislocation and displacement that we are experiencing? How do the mass media contribute to an awareness of our fundamental similarities and differences? What does it mean to belong to a place when the majority of us have access to worldwide news and entertainment? Artists may be more concerned with asking pertinent questions than with offering definitive answers.
6 April - 6 June 2005
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Sharjah Art Museum, Expo Centre Sharjah, Heritage Area
President & Chief Director: Hoor Al Qasimi
Curator: Jack Persekian
Co-curators: Ken Lum, Tirdad Zolghadr
70 artists and groups
Rina Carvajal, Okwui Enwezor, Walid Sadek
7 and 8 April 2005, Expo Centre Sharjah
Edited by painter and art researcher Kamal Boullata.
Contributors: Frederick N. Bohrer, Nicolas Bourriaud, Boris Brollo, Laymert Garcia dos Santos, Jean Fisher, Elias Khoury, Joseph Massad, Khaled Mattawa, Gerardo Mosquera, Achille Bonito Oliva, Nadia Tazi
General coordinator: Hisham Al-Madhloum
(Director of the Directorate of Arts, Sharjah Department of Culture and Information)
Biennial coordinator: Mahita El Bacha Urieta
Artists' coordinator: Maissa Alsuwaidi
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.
© Text: Hoor Al Qasimi, President & Chief Director, Sharjah Biennial 7. Extract from the Preface in the catalogue of SB7
Cover image on top: Nuha Asad, Faces with One Feature. Performance on the Arts Square, during the opening of the Sharjah Biennial 7, 6 April 2005.
© Photos: Universes in Universe, unless otherwise indicated