March 19, 2009 - Sharjah Art Foundation - Official inauguration Today
March 19, 2009

Official inauguration Today

16 March – 16 May 2009

Official Inauguration 19th March
Sharjah, UAE

www.sharjahbiennial.org

Today H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi inaugurates the 9th edition of the Sharjah Biennial. The Biennial launched on Monday with the March Meeting symposium, a platform for artistic debate, featuring high-profile speakers such as architect Rem Koolhaas, former Guggenheim Director Thomas Krens, as well as a number of prestigious art institutions such as the Townhouse Gallery, the Tashkent Biennial, Birzeit’s University’s Virtual Gallery and Ashkal Alwan for Contemporary Arts. The Biennial’s Film and Production programme, Past of the Coming Days’, curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh and featuring performances, lectures and film screenings in different venues throughout the city, also kicked off earlier in the week. Some of the highlights included Rimini Protokoll’s interactive performance Call Cutta in a box and Abbas Kiarostami’s film Shirin. Tuesday also saw the launch of the Curator’s Workshop, a week long series of seminars and workshops for emerging contemporary art curators from the Middle East and hosted in collaboration with the International Curators Forum and Tate. For the first time this year, the Biennial also hosted the symbolic Handover Ceremony of the torch of the capital of Arab Culture, from Damascus to Jerusalem.

The Sharjah Biennial, hosted by the Department of Culture and Information, this year takes place from March 16 until May 16 2009. Under the auspices of Biennial Director, HH Sheika Hoor al Qasimi, overseen by renowned Curators Isabel Carlos and Tarek Abou El Fetouh and led by Artistic Director Jack Persekian, the 9th edition of the Sharjah Biennial transcends central themes and pre-cast frameworks, exhibiting instead a wide range of works selected by open invitation. The Sharjah Biennial has since its inauguration in 1993 served to connect artists, institutions and organisations and to foster artistic dialogue and exchange. It ranks amongst the most established and prominent cultural events in the Middle East.

‘The Sharjah Biennial 9, unlike many other Biennials, imposes no geographical classifications on displaying work,’ says Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of the Sharjah Biennial 9. ‘We have also decided not to limit the selection process to a wish-list of participants, but have opted instead to consider work submitted by artists and non-artists alike, who were brave enough to take up the challenge and respond to an open invitation to realise their ideas.’

The SB9 program comprises the exhibition programme titled ‘Provisions For The Future’ curated by Isabel Carlos, and the performance and film programme ‘Past Of The Coming Days’ curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh. The entire city of Sharjah will be offered to artists for context-specific work, and other SB9 activities will take place across a wide range of venues including the Sharjah Art Museum, the Heritage Area of Sharjah, and the Sharjah Museum for Contemporary Arab Art.

‘Sharjah is a geographic and cultural meeting place, where the notion of future is permanently evoked,’ comments Isabel Carlos, Curator of the Sharjah Biennial 9. ‘More than a presentation of a global selection of art works, ‘Provisions For The Future’ aims to be a place of production and development of artworks in the context of the city of Sharjah.’

As well as exhibiting works by more than 80 artists from around the world, there are a number of events and programmes designed to support and nurture creativity for local and visiting participants. These include the March Meeting and the Artist-in-Residence Programme, a scheme that hosts visiting artists in Sharjah with the goal of developing context-related work. The opening days of the Sharjah Biennial 9 coincides with Art Dubai 2009 (18-21 March 2009), offering international visitors the opportunity to experience the diversity of cultural projects now underway in the Gulf region.

‘The Sharjah Biennial has a track record as one of the few art institutions in the region leading a programme of support for artists’ productions,’ explains Jack Persekian, Artistic Director of the Sharjah Biennial 9. ‘This support needs to be sensibly extended to artists operating in the region and those working elsewhere who can positively contribute to the crucial dialogue amongst artists and practitioners, the exchange of experience and the progress of knowledge.’

Additional Information can also be found on www.sharjahbiennial.org

Press Contacts:

For local press enquiries
Mariam W. Al Dabbagh, Head of Communications, Sharjah Biennial 9 +971 6 568 5050, mariam.aldabbagh@sharjahbiennial.org

For international press enquiries
Please contact sharjahbiennial@brunswickgroup.com or
Klara M. Piza, Brunswick Arts +49 30 20 67 33 68, kpiza@brunswickgroup.com
Maria Marques, Brunswick Arts +44 20 79 36 12 85, mmarques@brunswickgroup.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

List of participating artists for Sharjah Biennial 9:

Provisions for the Future – Exhibition
Hamra Abbas, Haig Aivazian, Reem Al Ghaith, Diana Al Hadid, Jawad Al Malhi, Basma Al-Sharif, Halil Altindere, Juan Araujo, Tarek Atoui, Samira Badran, Doris Bittar, Melissa Chimera & Adele Ne Jame, Eugenio Dittborn, Lili Dujourie, Alberto Duman, Hala Elkoussy, Haris Epaminonda, Ayse Erkmen, Sophie Ernst, Amir H. Fallah, Lara Favaretto, Lamya Gargash, Mariam Ghani & Erin Ellen Kelly, Simryn Gill, Sheela Gowda, Laurent Grasso, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, N.S. Harsha, Doug Henders, Agnes Janich, Lamia Joreige, Fernando José Pereira, Narelle Jubelin, Nadia Kaabi Linke, Hayv Kahraman, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, Maider Lopez, Robert MacPherson, Lani Maestro, Firoz Mahmud, Waheeda Malullah, José Luis Martinat, Hiroyuki Masuyama, Gita Meh, Giuseppe Moscatello, Nika Oblak & Primõz Novak, Liliana Porter, Karin Sander, Nida Sinnokrot, Valeska Soares & O Grivo, David Spriggs, Ana Vidigal, Sharif Waked, Liu Wei, Lawrence Weiner, Jane & Louise Wilson, Yonamine

Publications
Rasha Salti & Ziad Antar

Past of the Coming Days – Film & Performance
Sulayman Al-Bassam, May Al-Ibrashy, Nacera Belaza, Néjib Belkadhi, CAMP (Shaina Anand, Nida Ghouse, Hakim Lillyawalla, Ashok Sukumaran), Romeo Castellucci, Ahmed El Attar, Sherif El Azma, Ahmed Foula, Tarek Halaby, Iman Issa, Eva Meyer-Keller, Abbas Kiarostami, Elena Kovylina, Maha Maamoun, Rabih Mroué, Shinichiro Ogata, Samer Omran, Rimini Protokol (Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel), Walid Raad, Mahmoud Refat, Mounira Al Solh, Anand Surapur, Raed Yassin

Sharjah Biennial 9 – Catalogue Editor: Antonia Carver

The Handover Ceremony

Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 9 will host The Handover Ceremony of the symbolic torch of the Capital of Arab Culture from Damascus to Jerusalem. The ceremony, which will be conducted by Dr. Rafiq Al Husseini, Secretary General of Jerusalem Capital of Arab Culture 2009 and Dr. Hanan Kassab Hassan, Secretary General of Damascus Capital of Culture 2008, will be held on the 16th of March at 7 pm in the Cultural Palace in Sharjah.

About Contemparabia

Contemparabia is a joint initiative of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH); Art Dubai; the Sharjah Biennial; the Qatar Museums Authority; and the Tourism Development Investment Company Abu Dhabi (TDIC). Taking place from 15 to 21 March 2009, Contemparabia comprises a cultural and geographical excursion which is designed with one specific aim in mind: to focus regional as well as international attention on the outstanding quality and diversity of cultural projects underway in the Gulf. The programme includes chosen visits to Doha (the Museum of Islamic Art and special tours); Dubai (the Global Art Forum, Art Dubai, the exhibition of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize finalists’ works on Fort Island and Dubai’s famed gallery district); Sharjah (the Sharjah Biennial 9, the March Meeting) and Abu Dhabi (cultural sites and museum projects). www.contemparabia.com

About the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE is comprised of seven emirates including Sharjah and Dubai. 88 percent of the UAE’s population lives in urban areas and 90 percent of the nation’s territory is made up of desert. The economy of the UAE is based on its natural resources. Although the United Arab Emirates is becoming less dependent on natural resources as a source of revenue, petroleum and natural gas exports still play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. Fossil fuel exports have made it the fourth wealthiest nation in the world. Its new stock market, paired with technology, media and the latest communications infrastructure, are attracting the world’s leading companies to move their operations and premises to the Emirates. In addition, recent liberalisation in the property market has resulted in a major boom in the construction and real estate sectors, with several signature developments.

About Sharjah

Sharjah is the third largest emirate of the UAE with a surface of 2,600 km² and an estimated population of over 800,00 people (2008 census). It houses a large number of museums including the Sharjah Art Museum, several archaeological museums and a heritage conservation area comprised of old souks and buildings. There is also an arts area which boasts a number of museums, galleries, artists’ studios and educational institutions. Sharjah is home to a number of universities and colleges such as the American University of Sharjah, the University of Sharjah, two higher colleges of technology, amongst others.

Sharjah Visitor information: www.sharjah-welcome.com

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