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Most extensive presentation of works from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection to date opens in Sharjah following its debut at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Etel Adnan, Mount Tamalpaïs, 2015. Wool tapestry; 212 x 170cm. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Sharjah Art Foundation Collection. Photographer: Danko Stjepanovic

The most extensive presentation of works from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection to date opens on 15 July 2023, following its debut at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in November 2022. For its presentation in Sharjah iteration, ‘In the Heart of Another Country’ has been reimagined to include new acquisitions and restored works, many of which are on view for the first time. Spanning all six galleries in Al Mureijah Art Spaces, the exhibition features over 150 works by more than 60 artists across three generations, and is on view through 24 September 2023.  

Over the past three decades, Sharjah Biennial and Sharjah Art Foundation have provided an internationally recognised platform for artists underrepresented in the global art canon, while offering perspectives from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Through these years, the Foundation has established an archive of contemporary thought and form generated by artists through commissions and exhibitions, performances and conversation and its public collection of modern and contemporary art. This exhibition identifies key themes evident throughout the collection and brings them together in an exploration of artists whose work engages with concepts of longing, belonging and rootedness.

Through three thematic chapters, the exhibition examines the increasingly mutable notion of home. The artists herein have traversed migratory routes from South and West Asia, through Africa and the Caribbean, and many now live in dispersed sites, far from where they first believed that they belonged. Tracing a travelogue through multiple sites, histories and geographies that link the ethnic Global Majority, ‘In the Heart of Another Country’ displays a re-imagining of a once colonised world, exploring the politics of place and placelessness through myriad art forms and genres, including painting, portraiture, architecture and abstraction, from the twentieth century to the present. Recently restored installations are displayed alongside contemporary acquisitions, narrating a communal story of kinship amongst artists – one often developed against a backdrop of political turmoil and social unrest.

Drawing inspiration from the late artist and author Etel Adnan’s landmark memoir, In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country (2004), the exhibition charts sentiments of longing, memorial and homecoming though a constellation of artworks that unfold across borders, both real and imagined. From the tessellating architectural structures conceived by Saloua Raouda Choucair to the sensuous abstraction found in the paintings of Huguette Caland, these forms convene in space and in dialogue with the arched architectures of Sonia Balassanian, whose work is being presented at the Foundation for the first time. A significant geometric abstraction by Marcos Grigorian is shown alongside Adam Henein’s delicate drawings on papyrus. In between these visual journeys are extensive presentations of the reconfigured body, as seen in self-portraits by Rasheed Araeen and Amal Kenawy, whose evocative images reveal the possibilities of distinguishing the self and the other.

Questions of nationalism, space and refuge emerge in an illuminating work by Halil Altindere and in the textured seascape of Minam Apang. Through the gathering of these forms and stories, a sensory choreography emerges – one that emphasises the affinity of belonging to a collective diasporic imagination. Here, home is seen as a proposition – a site of becoming, albeit one constantly subject to interpretation and interrogation.

‘In the Heart of Another Country: The Diasporic Imagination Rises’ is organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, and curated by Dr Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation.

Artists featured in the exhibition include:

Mohamed Abdrassul, Bani Abidi, Ahmed Omar Addow, Etel Adnan, Novera Ahmed, Latif Al Ani, Halil Altindere, Rushdi Anwar, Minam Apang, Rasheed Araeen, Dana Awartani, Sonia Balassanian, Thuraya Al-Baqsami, Lothar Baumgarten, Richard Bell, Semiha Berksoy, Huma Bhabha, Huguette Caland, CAMP, Tony Chakar, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Tiffany Chung, Thomas Demand, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Simone Fattal, Meschac Gaba, Marcos Grigorian, Andreas Gursky, Abbas Habiballa, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Rokni Haerizadeh, Adam Henein, Lubaina Himid, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Kamala Ibrahim Ishag, Hayv Kahraman, Mohammed Kazem, Ali Kazim, Amal Kenawy, Omer Khairy, Helen Khal, Anuar Khalifi, David Koloane, Bertina Lopes, Tala Madani, MARWAN, Ibrahim Massouda, Ahmed Morsi, Farhad Moshiri, Fateh Moudarres, Hamid Nada, Amir Nour, Nika Oblak & Primož Novak, Nam June Paik, Michael Rakowitz, Marwan Rechmaoui, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Mohan Samant, Mona Saudi, Hassan Sharif, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Ahmed Shibrain, Lionel Wendt, Kamal Youssef, Akram Zaatari, Fahrelnissa Zeid.

An extensive publication, co-published by Deichtorhallen Hamburg and Snoeck, edited and co-authored by Dr Omar Kholeif and with contributions by Bani Abidi, Skye Arundhati Thomas, Stephanie Bailey, Anne Barlow, Lubaina Himid, Chris McCormack, Hrair Sarkissian and Sofia Victorino, with forewords by Hoor Al Qasimi and Dirk Luckow as well as an afterword by Nawar Al Qassimi is available from SAF stores as well as from Snoeck or from Diechtorhallen.

The exhibition is on view from the 15th of July until the 24th of September, 2023. For more information, please visit the Sharjah Art Foundation.

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