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Kicking off Sharjah Biennial 15, MM 2020: Unravelling the Present Examines the Evolution of the Sharjah Biennial and March Meeting

Courtesy of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual March Meeting (MM) returns from 21 to 23 March 2020, gathering leading artists, curators, and art practitioners from across the region and around the world for a series of talks, workshops and performances. The 2020 edition, titled Unravelling the Present, leads up to the 30th anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial in 2021 and is part of Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present, conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor.

March Meeting 2020 (MM 2020) will examine the history of the Sharjah Biennial and past March Meetings, bringing together former Biennial curators, participants and interlocutors, as well as art historians and critics to discuss the role of the Biennial as a catalyst for critical dialogue and transnational exchange. According to Enwezor, the Sharjah Biennial is ‘perceived as a module with which to deal with the disruptive power of artistic monolingualism.’

“Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual March Meeting provides an opportunity for artists, curators and art practitioners from around the world to come together for reflection and to continue this ongoing dialogue on the most vital issues in contemporary art,” said Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. ”This year’s edition is particularly special as we will be celebrating and examining the history of Sharjah Biennial and critical issues related to exhibition-making. We look forward to welcoming audiences and participants to be a part of this robust cultural exchange.”

MM 2020 will also explore the evolution of the Biennial in its effort to break away from traditional modes of curating and displaying art and engaging with the public by activating non-institutional spaces and moving to non-geographic models of representation. Over the three days of the meeting, panels and roundtables will examine the 30-year history of the Sharjah Biennial as well as diverse issues around the MM 2020 theme. Crucially, MM 2020 will take a critical look at the reception, impact and relevance of the Sharjah Biennial in the regional and global contemporary art scenes. The proceedings of MM 2020 will be edited and published for the opening of Sharjah Biennial 15 in 2021.

MM 2020 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); Yousif Aydabi (Cultural Advisor, Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre); Sammy Baloji (artist); Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU); 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 Program, Cornell University); Catherine David (Deputy Director, National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou); Manthia Diawara (Professor, NYU, and filmmaker); 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 (curator); Salah M. Hassan (Director, The Africa Institute, Sharjah and Goldwin Smith Professor, Cornell University); Geeta Kapur (art critic, curator); Mohammed Kazem (artist); Omar Kholeif (Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation); Vasif Kortun (curator); Arshiya Lokhandwala (art historian, curator and Founder, Lakeeren Art Gallery); Margarita González Lorente (Vice Director, 13th edition of Havana Biennial and Curator, International Contemporary Art, National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana); Amina Menia (artist); 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); 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); John Tain (Head of Research, Asia Art Archive); Christine Tohme (Founding Director, Ashkal Alwan); Françoise Vergès (political scientist, curator, author); Octavio Zaya (Executive Director, Cuban Art Foundation), and Tirdad Zolghadr (Associate Curator, KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Artistic Director, Sommerakademie Paul Klee).

The programme will also include evening performances led by renowned artist and musician Tarek Atoui, as well as the announcement of this year’s Production Programme grant cycle winners.

Coinciding with MM 2020, the exhibitions Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket and Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11, both curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi, and Art in the Age of Anxiety, curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director of Collections and Senior Curator Omar Kholeif, will open on 21 March 2020. Special curator and artist-led tours of the exhibitions will take place throughout MM 2020.

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