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Who is making art in the Arab world and why? Who is promoting, exhibiting and selling it, and to whom? In what way does it address contemporary Arab identity and society? How will the global economic climate affect it? And what does the future hold for those involved in the intricate and tangled chain of artistic production?
The March Meeting, due to take place ahead of the launch of the ninth Sharjah Biennial between March 16 and 18 at the Beit al Shamsi, is a global gathering of art professionals and institutions who will be meeting to debate these topics, as well as a host of related issues dealing with the production and dissemination of art in the Arab world. An open-access event, there will be presentations by key speakers, as well as a programme of workshops and group sessions. With over 40 institutions, from the Arab world and beyond present, the stage is set for a far-reaching and in-depth analysis and debate on the current state and future of the Middle East’s rapidly expanding art scene.
For the organisers of the Sharjah Biennial, the uniting of creatives and industry professional has been one of the fundamental aims of the event, since its inception in 1993. The inaugural March Meetings last year saw 24 delegates from predominantly visual art institutions in the Arab world, taking part in a rich and intellectually-charged series of debates on the future of the region’s art scene, as well as providing insight into their own practises and experiences.
With representatives from the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Morocco and Oman, the shared breadth of experience gave attendees and participants an unrivalled overview of current trends and practises in the industry, and the opportunity to debate future strategies and directions.
This year’s March Meeting will build on the achievements of the 2008 event. The agenda will encourage participants to take stock of the phenomenal growth in artistic infrastructure within the region during the intervening years, scrutinise the internal and external factors affecting art production and debate possible pathways for development in the future.
Organisers have arranged the three-day symposium’s agenda along a theoretical structure that will successively examine in depth, shared contemporary issues in Arab art, with an emphasis on analysing the mechanics of art education, curatorial practices, writing, translation and art publishing in the Middle East.
In addition to the March Meeting, Sharjah Biennial, and in collaboration with the International Curators Forum and Tate Modern will also host the Young Curators Workshop which is a week-long series of seminars and workshops for emerging contemporary art curators from the Middle East. The programme will bring together more than 25 curators from across the region and the UK to participate together in a programme of intensive workshops from 16 till 20 March.
Mirroring the ninth Sharjah Biennial’s fundamental aims of defining a possible future of art in the Middle East, the March Meeting will provide a unique intellectual and creative forum in which the ideas of tomorrow can begin to take flight. By establishing strong links with regional art institutions, professionals and audiences, the Biennial’s March Meeting initiative articulates and empowers the Middle East’s ongoing cultural debate within the context of a fast-changing, dynamic world.
For more information on the March Meeting, Young Curators Workshop and Sharjah Biennial 9, please contact:
Mariam W. Al Dabbagh,
Head of Communications, Sharjah Biennial 9
9th Sharjah Biennial
19 March - 16 May 2009
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
16 - 18 March
Venue: Beit al Shamsi
See opening week