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Sharjah Biennial 15 To Feature 30 New Commissions In Okwui Enwezor-Conceived Edition

John Akomfrah, Coco Fusco, Hassan Hajjaj, Mona Hatoum, Kerry James Marshall, Steve McQueen and Carrie Mae Weems among the commissioned artists.

Sharjah Biennial 15 To Feature 30 New Commissions In Okwui Enwezor-Conceived Edition

Sharjah Art Foundation today announced that the 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial (SB15) will feature 30 new commissions by artists including John Akomfrah, Coco Fusco, Hassan Hajjaj, Mona Hatoum, Kerry James Marshall, Steve McQueen and Carrie Mae Weems and will open in February 2023.

Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and realized by Hoor Al Qasimi as curator alongside the SB15 Working Group and Advisory Committee, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present reflects on Enwezor's visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world including the Sharjah Biennial. As part of his vision for SB15 as platform to reflect on the evolution of the Sharjah Biennial and to consider the future of the biennial model globally, Enwezor proposed commissioning 30 works to celebrate the Sharjah Biennial's 30th anniversary and to meaningfully activate this critical platform through the development of new productions.

SB15 began with March Meeting 2021: Unraveling the Present, which examined the 30-year Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) today announced that the 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial opens in early February 2023, featuring 30 major commissions by artists from around the world. Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present (SB15) reflects on Enwezor 's visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and established an ambitious intellectual project that has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial.

For Enwezor, the contemporary art exhibition provided a means to engage with history, politics and society in our global present. He envisioned the invitation to curate this edition of Sharjah Biennial as a way to reflect on and contribute to the Biennial's history and that of the overarching Foundation, and their role in addressing the need for institutional models outside of the West that support dialogue and the production and presentation of contemporary art responsive to our times. Enwezor proposed commissioning 30 works for SB15 to celebrate Sharjah Biennial's 30-year anniversary and to meaningfully activate this critical platform through the development of new productions.

In line with the framework he established, 30 artists have been invited to embark on major commissions that explore histories that continue to shape our present: John Akomfrah, Kader Attia, Sammy Baloji, Marí a Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carolina Caycedo, Destiny Deacon, Manthia Diawara, Coco Fusco, Hassan Hajjaj, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Isaac Julien, Amar Kanwar, Bouchra Khalili, Mohammed Ibrahim Mahama, Kerry James Marshall, Steve McQueen, Almagul Menlibayeva, Aline Motta, Wangechi Mutu, Philippe Parreno, Doris Salcedo, Berni Searle, Yinka Shonibare, Vivan Sundaram, Fatimah Tuggar, Hajra Waheed, Barbara Walker, Nari Ward and Carrie Mae Weems. Their new commissions will be featured in the Biennial alongside a selection of works by international artists to be announced in the coming year.

"These commissioned artists build on Enwezor's vision that transformed how we understand and engage with contemporary art and its institutions. Although he worked with many of these artists, I felt it was important to include other voices that bring his proposal into our immediate present and leverage the critical role that he believed the Sharjah Biennial could play in this endeavour," said SAF Director and SB15 Curator Hoor Al Qasimi . "Reflecting on the relentless devastation of COVID-19 in many parts of the world, as well as the uneven access to vaccines and restrictions to travel still in place, SAF has made the decision to open Sharjah Biennial 15 in 2023. Our goal is to give artists and our audiences the necessary time to tend to what is most urgent around them. We hope to be able to gather in Sharjah once again with renewed energy and appreciation for the way art can bring complex questions into focus."

SB15 is being realised by Hoor Al Qasimi as curator in conjunction with the SB15 Working Group, comprised of Tarek Abou El Fetouh (independent curator); Ute Meta Bauer (professor and Founding Director of NTU CCA Singapore); Salah M. Hassan (professor and art historian, Cornell University and Director of The Africa Institute, Sharjah); Chika Okeke-Agulu (professor and art historian, Princeton University); and Octavio Zaya (independent curator, art writer and Executive Director of the Cuban Art Foundation). Al Qasimi and the Working Group are overseeing the development and implementation of the Biennial with an Advisory Committee that includes Sir David Adjaye (architect) and Christine Tohmé (Director, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut).

SB15 began with the 2021 edition of the March Meeting-an integral part of Enwezor's plans for SB15-which is the Foundation's annual convening of artists, curators and art practitioners to explore critical issues in contemporary art through panels, lectures and performances. Held from 12 to 21 March 2021, March Meeting 2021: Unravelling the Present examined the 30-year history of the Sharjah Biennial and the future of the biennial model. All talks and panels from March Meeting 2021, which drew more than 4,000 attendees from around the world, are now available online at: sharjahart.org/march-meeting-2021/programme. The March Meeting Papers, a series of eleven commissioned essays by art historians and scholars chosen through the March Meeting 2021 open call, are also available online at: sharjahart.org/sharjah-art-foundation/publications/march-meeting-papers . The 2022 edition of March Meeting will continue these explorations and dialogue in the lead up to SB15.

Additional information on March Meeting 2022 and Sharjah Biennial 15, including the complete artist list, will be announced in the coming months. For further details on all Sharjah Art Foundation programming, please visit: sharjahart.org.


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