March Meeting 2019, Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Sharjah. / File photo
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
March Meeting 2021 (MM 2021), the annual Sharjah Art Foundation convening of artists, curators and art practitioners to explore critical issues in contemporary art, returns as an expanded 10-day, hybrid on-site and online programme (Mar. 12 – 21). Examining the 30-year history of the Sharjah Biennial and the future of the biennial model through panels, lectures and performances, March Meeting 2021: Unravelling the Present, serves as the launch of Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present, which was conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019) and is curated by Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) Director Hoor Al Qasimi, alongside the Sharjah Biennial (SB15) Working Group and Advisory Committee, opening 2022.
MM 2021 explores the past 30 years of the Sharjah Biennial as a model for dealing with the disruptive power of artistic monolingualism, as seen in traditional modes of curating. It will try to be the starting point for developing a theoretical space for thinking historically in the present and display art by activating non-institutional spaces as well as non-geographic models of representation. This edition of MM brings together former Sharjah Biennial curators, artistic directors and artists as well as art historians and art critics, to consider the role and impact of the Sharjah Biennial in the region and the global contemporary art scene at large. MM 2021 is an integral part of SB15, laid out by Enwezor. Building on his transformative contribution to contemporary art, SB15 will serve as a platform for the exploration of his curatorial and intellectual legacy.
The Biennial will reflect on the critical work of alternative platforms and artistic experimentation enabled by the emergence of the contemporary art biennial, embracing Enwezor’s insistence on the art exhibition as an important vehicle for engaging with history, politics and society and the ways in which these domains shape our global present.
The Biennial will be realised by Hoor Al Qasimi as curator, in conjunction with the SB15 Working Group and Advisory Committee. In addition to panels and lectures, the programme will include performances led by acclaimed artist and musician Tarek Atoui, as well as resident artists and advisors participating in the residency programme that is taking place as part of his ongoing solo exhibition, Cycles in 11. Participants include Leyya Mona Tawil, Kristoffer Kjaerskov and Safeya Alblooshi (Mar. 1 - 15) and Boris Shershenkov, Hadi Zeidan and Zeynab Ghandour (Mar. 14 – 23). Coinciding with MM, the exhibitions Rayyane Tabet: Exquisite Corpse, curated by SAF Senior Curator Ryan Inouye and Unsettled Objects, curated by SAF Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Omar Kholeif, opens March 12. Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket and Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11, both curated by SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi, will also remain on view through April 10. Curator and artist-led tours of the exhibitions will also take place during MM 2021. The in-person and virtual programmes are free and open to the public, with advance registration.
March Meeting 2021 speakers and participants include Tarek Abou El Fetouh (curator); Thuraya Al Baqsami (artist, writer); Mona Al Khaja (artist); Hisham Al Madhloum (Chairman, Sharjah Arts Collection); Noora Al Mualla (Director of Learning and Research, Sharjah Art Foundation); Hoor Al Qasimi (President and Director, Sharjah Art Foundation); John Akomfrah (artist, filmmaker); Yousif Aydabi (Cultural Advisor, Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre); Sammy Baloji (visual artist and co-founder of the Lubumbashi Biennale); Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU); Zarina Bhimji (artist); Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Director, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art and Director, Fondazione Francesco Federico Cerruti); Lucrezia Cippitelli (scholar, curator); Iftikhar Dadi (Associate Professor, History of Art and Director, South Asia Programme, Cornell University); Catherine David (Deputy Director, National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou); Manthia Diawara (Professor, NYU, and filmmaker); Bongiwe Dhlomo–Mautloa (artist, curator); Anita Dube (artist, curator); Ehab Ellaban (Director, Center of Arts Cairo); Reem Fadda (Director, Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation); Coco Fusco (artist, writer and Professor, Cooper Union School of Art); Thembinkosi Goniwe (Assistant Professor of Art History, Rhodes University); Hou Hanru (Artistic Director, MAXXI); Yuko Hasegawa (Artistic Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts); Salah M Hassan (Director, The Africa Institute, Sharjah and Goldwin Smith Professor, Cornell University); Eungie Joo (Curator of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Art); Geeta Kapur (art critic, curator); Mohammed Kazem (artist); Omar Kholeif (Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation); Vasif Kortun (curator); Adrian Lahoud (Dean, School of Architecture, Royal College of Art London, Co-chair, Rights of Future Generations Working Group and Curator, first Sharjah Architecture Triennial); Peter Lewis (curator); Arshiya Lokhandwala (art historian, curator and founder, Lakeeren Art Gallery); Margarita Gonzalez Lorente (Vice Director, 13th edition of Havana Biennial and Curator, International Contemporary Art, National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana); Amina Menia (artist); Gabi Ngcobo (curator, educator); Otobong Nkanga (artist); Chika Okeke-Agulu (Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University); Jack Persekian (Director, Al Ma’amal Foundation); Qudsia Rahim (Executive Director, Lahore Biennale Foundation and Director, Lahore Biennale); Enrique Rivera (Director, Biennial of Media Arts of Santiago); Nada Shabout (Professor, Art History and Coordinator, Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative, University of North Texas); Suha Shoman (Founder and Chair, Darat Al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation); Aisha Stoby (curator, researcher); Alia Swastika (curator) and John Tain (Head of Research, Asia Art Archive), among others.
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March Meeting (MM) 2021 will serve as a prelude to Sharjah Biennial 15’s (SB15) Thinking Historically in the Present, opening spring 2022.
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