February 23, 2009 - Sharjah Art Foundation - The March Meeting
February 23, 2009

The March Meeting

The March Meeting, Sharjah Biennial 2009

Discussions, Presentations and Workshops
March 16 – 18

www.sharjahbiennial.org

Who is making art in the Arab world and why? Who is promoting, exhibiting and selling it, and to whom? In what way does it address contemporary Arab identity and society? How will the global economic climate affect it? And what does the future hold for those involved in the intricate and tangled chain of artistic production?

The March Meeting, due to take place ahead of the launch of the ninth Sharjah Biennial between March 16 and 18 at the Beit al Shamsi, is a global gathering of art professionals and institutions who will be meeting to debate these topics, as well as a host of related issues dealing with the production and dissemination of art in the Arab world. An open-access event, there will be presentations by key speakers, as well as a programme of workshops and group sessions. With over 40 institutions, from the Arab world and beyond present, the stage is set for a far-reaching and in-depth analysis and debate on the current state and future of the Middle East’s rapidly expanding art scene.

For the organisers of the Sharjah Biennial, the uniting of creatives and industry professional has been one of the fundamental aims of the event, since its inception in 1993. The inaugural March Meetings last year saw 24 delegates from predominantly visual art institutions in the Arab world, taking part in a rich and intellectually-charged series of debates on the future of the region’s art scene, as well as providing insight into their own practises and experiences.

With representatives from the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Morocco and Oman, the shared breadth of experience gave attendees and participants an unrivalled overview of current trends and practises in the industry, and the opportunity to debate future strategies and directions.

This year’s March Meeting will build on the achievements of the 2008 event. The agenda will encourage participants to take stock of the phenomenal growth in artistic infrastructure within the region during the intervening years, scrutinise the internal and external factors affecting art production and debate possible pathways for development in the future.

Organisers have arranged the three-day symposium’s agenda along a theoretical structure that will successively examine in depth, shared contemporary issues in Arab art, with an emphasis on analysing the mechanics of art education, curatorial practices, writing, translation and art publishing in the Middle East.

In addition to the March Meeting, Sharjah Biennial, and in collaboration with the International Curators Forum and Tate Modern will also host the Young Curators Workshop which is a week-long series of seminars and workshops for emerging contemporary art curators from the Middle East. The programme will bring together more than 25 curators from across the region and the UK to participate together in a programme of intensive workshops from 16 till 20 March.

Mirroring the ninth Sharjah Biennial’s fundamental aims of defining a possible future of art in the Middle East, the March Meeting will provide a unique intellectual and creative forum in which the ideas of tomorrow can begin to take flight. By establishing strong links with regional art institutions, professionals and audiences, the Biennial’s March Meeting initiative articulates and empowers the Middle East’s ongoing cultural debate within the context of a fast-changing, dynamic world.

For more information on the March Meeting, Young Curators Workshop and Sharjah Biennial 9, please contact: Mariam W. Al Dabbagh, Head of Communications, Sharjah Biennial 9, mariam.aldabbagh@sharjahbiennial.org

Sharjah Biennial-Tel: +9716-5685050- www.sharjahbiennial.orginfo@sharjahbiennial.org

Notes to the Editor:

About Sharjah Biennial 9
March 16- May 16
2009

Sharjah’s Department of Culture and Information will host the 9th Sharjah Biennial from March 16 until May 16 2009. Under the Patronage of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah and 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 will transcend 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.

About The International Curators Forum

The International Curators Forum is supported by Arts Council England. It is a network of independent international curators that meets to discuss emerging issues of curatorial practice in the context of key events in the international arts calendar.

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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