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Countdown On To Sharjah International Contemporary Art

SHARJAH.- Sharjah Biennial 7, the only international contemporary art event of its kind in the GCC, today announced the theme of “Belonging” for its 7th session, due to open to the public on 6 April.

Over the two months of April and May the Biennial will act as a platform for interaction with and reflection on the “Belonging” theme through the creative works of more than 70 artists from 36 countries who are participating in the event.

At a press conference held in the Sharjah Art Area, Hisham Al Madhloum, General Coordinator of Sharjah Biennial and Jack Persekian, Head Curator, announced further details around the “Belonging” theme and activity calendar for the event.

Hisham Madhloum says; “Over a period of 12 years Sharjah Biennial has built a strong reputation internationally, carving a niche for itself on the map of contemporary art. Since its inception, the Biennial has been held under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah.”

“Hosting an arts event of this significance has always been H. H Sheikh Sultan’s vision and his aim is to stimulate the arts and cultural scene not only in Sharjah but in the UAE and region. This is achieved by bringing together some of the best the contemporary art world has to offer, in one place, under a common platform. This in turn, provides the Arab community with an opportunity to express themselves through their own contemporary art forms and showcase these works to the world.”

“This year we have an exciting and dynamic selection of artists participating; a testament to the strength and growing presence of the Sharjah event on the world stage and unfailing support over 14 year of His Highness Sheikh Isam Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Head of Culture and Information Department of Sharjah through the Arts Division.” added Madhloum.

The Sharjah Biennial 7 team works under the Directorship of Her Highness Hoor Al Qasimi, who was also Director and Co-Curator of Sharjah Biennial 6. In July 2004 H. H Hoor Al Qasimi appointed Jack Persekian as Head Curator of the 7th session along with a team of international and local experts and coordinators. Born and brought up in Jerusalem, Persekian is Founder and Director of Anadiel Gallery, the Al Ma’mal Foundation of Contemporary Art in Jerusalem and XEIN Productions. He has played a key role in establishing and developing the contemporary art movement in Palestine and has contributed immensely in energizing the art and cultural landscape in the country and earning it an international reputation.

After his appointment, Persekian and his team spent several months carefully selecting and extending invitations to a range of artists and art practitioners from across the world to explore the theme of “Belonging” in a wide range of media.

“In selecting the theme of “Belonging” at this moment in time and place, the Biennial hopes to address itself to questions that explore how art may overlap with history and how artists may intervene in our space to allow us to think across cultural divisions and beyond our differences.”

“Within the political and economic environment that has been created in our daily life, and in light of the growth in media and communication, it is important to articulate our identity and where we belong. Issues associated with the contemporary experience of ‘belonging’ will be raised at this year’s Biennial, and hopefully cast new light on the interpretations of home and homelessness, of living in between places, of the realities of self and other, of borders and boundaries and how art may possibly surmount divisions.”

In exploring this theme for the Biennial, Persekian and his team gathered the creative impressions of a number of artists as well as commissioning site-specific projects, created especially for the context of the Biennial and in many cases, the backgrounds and experiences the participating artists have match the theme of the Biennial.

“Aside from the support from the patron and Director of the event, I am also working with a strong team of local coordinators and two Associate Curators – Kenneth Lum, a Chinese-Canadian and Tirdad Zolghadr, a Swiss of Iranian origin. With the backing and contribution of such a multicultural team, we greatly expand the vision and experience of the curatorial team by gaining perspectives on contemporary art from all directions,” continued Persekian.

The Sharjah Biennial 7 will this year continue to engage all levels of the community in the event which Persekian says promises to offer something for everyone. Whether an art enthusiast or someone who is just curious about contemporary art, this year’s theme of “Belonging” as reflected by some of the world’s cutting edge contemporary artists is sure to surprise and interest visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The Biennial is free to all visitors and for the first time is being held over two months from April 6 to June 6, across two venues; the Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharjah Expo Centre.

For the first time during the Biennial, visitors can participate in parallel events such as an international symposium held in co-operation with the American University in Sharjah titled “Biennialicity” which addresses the growing phenomenon of Biennials; a discussion and round table on the Biennial theme of “Belonging” which will engage writers of the Biennial catalogue, participating artists, international critics, media specialists and other interested parties; and a workshop by Iranian artist Hassan Khan from Egypt, in which local art students will also participate.

“This year’s Biennial will specifically engage youth in the community, with events uniquely designed for students of visual arts in the UAE. By working and interacting with participating artists, students will benefit from new perspectives on art practices and an enriched education experience.” concluded Persekian.

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Countdown On To Sharjah International Contemporary Art

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