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Sharjah Biennial 12 - The past, the present, the possible
The Anembassy of Abkhazia

Sharjah Biennial 12 - The past, the present, the possible

Babak Afrassiabi » Leonor Antunes » Eric Baudelaire » Mark Bradford » Nikhil Chopra » Nikhil Chopra » Jimmie Durham » Im Heung-soon » Iman Issa » Michael Joo » Mohammed Kazem » Hassan Khan » Hassan Khan » Byron Kim » Kim Beom » Jawhing Arthur Liou » Cinthia Marcelle » Rodney McMillian » Damian Ortega » Hassan Sharif » Taro Shinoda » Gary Simmons » Nasrin Tabatabai » Rayyane Tabet » XU Tan » Danh Vō » Haegue Yang » & others

Exhibition: – 5 Jun 2015

Sharjah Biennial

P.O. Box 19989

+971 6-5685050


Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible (SB12) opened on Thursday, 5 March, 2015, in the presence of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and HE Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation.

Curated by Eungie Joo with associate curator Ryan Inouye, SB12 includes works by more than fifty artists and cultural practitioners from twenty-five countries, with over two thirds of the participants presenting new work and commissions. SB12 takes place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, crossing the emirate to sites in and around the city, as well as in the city of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman, and will be on view through 5 June, 2015.

Rather than conforming to proscribed themes, works in SB12 are presented in conversation with each other. Challenging modes of participation and engagement, The past the present, the possible invites participants and the public to reflect upon the possibilities and ambitions of Sharjah, a city and emirate still in the process of imagining itself through education, culture, religion, heritage and science. SB12 acknowledges the centrality of the present—respecting the past, but rejecting nostalgia and the burden of history in favour of productive imaginings of the possible. These perspectives resonate with the ideas of philosopher Henri Lefebvre in his essay The Right to the City (1967), which inspired the exhibition’s title.

Beginning with March Meeting 2014: Come Together and continuing through March Meeting 2015(11–15 May, 2015), SB12 has developed over two years of site visits, research trips and production. Many of the works are site-specific and location figures prominently in several new projects, from material elements, negotiations of space and time, and even methods of collaboration.

SB12 spreads further into the city than previous editions of the Biennial, with Michael Joo’s new commission featured across Sharjah Creek in a warehouse at Port Khalid, and Hassan Khan’s intervention at The Flying Saucer, an iconic building built in the 1970s. Installations by Mohammed Kazem and mixrice are found within Souq Al Shanasiyah, and Abraham Cruzvillegas’ site-specific sculptures can be seen at the Bird and Animal Market. In Kalba, Adrián Villar Rojas’ massive intervention covers the entire site of the city’s old Ice Factory.

The extensive SAF Art Spaces include new commissions by Abdullah Al Saadi, Iman Issa, Cinthia Marcelle, Taro Shinoda, Rayyane Tabet, Haegue Yang and other new commissions and works. Gary Simmons’ Across the Chalkline takes the form of a cricket field for children, while Rirkrit Tiravanija’s untitled 2015 (Eau de RRose of Damascus) transforms Calligraphers’ Studios into a rose garden, rosewater distillery, kitchen and lounge. At Sharjah Art Museum, works by Hassan Sharif include those created in 1985 at Sharjah’s Al Mareija Art Atelier funded in the 1980s in Al Mureijah, the area where SAF Art spaces now stand, and Byron Kim’s newly commissioned المدينة ليل(City Night). Also on view in the Arts Area, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s mixed-media installation, The Incidental Insurgents at Bait Al Serkal and Mark Bradford’s Untitled (Buoy) on the façade of Bait Obaid Al Shamsi.

On Thursday, 5 March, Sharjah Biennial 12 officially opened with a series of events including the culmination (5-6 March) of Nikhil Chopra’s nine-day performance Use Like Water, which considering the relationships between land and sea as much as that of spectator and audience; the work XYZ by Eduardo Navarro, centered on a new game developed with children from Sharjah schools and clubs and Souls’ Landscapes, the first of a three-part performance conceived and performed by Uriel Barthélémi, in collaboration with a small troupe of dancers, actors, and visual artists. Thursday also marked the launch of the Anembassy of Abkhazia staffed by Maxim Gvinjia, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, part of The Secession Sessions by Eric Baudelaire. The project, which considers the question of statehood through the prism of the stateless state of Abkhazia, was open to the public from 5-6 March and 14-16 May. The night concluded with the SB12 Awards ceremony, at which point the 2015 Biennial prizes were announced.

On Friday, 6 March, featured performances included a mix of dance, theatre, live music and resistance in Fanfare funérailles (Funeral brass) by Papy Ebotani and a self-choreographed performance, Le Cargo by Faustin Linyekula. At 10pm, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri will presented a screening event as part of In the absence of the objects seen, an evolving open structure project taking place throughout the duration of SB12.

Saturday, 7 March saw excursions to the Flying Saucer and Kalba Ice Factory to view large scale and site-specific installations by Hassan Khan and Adrián Villar Rojas*. The evening concluded with the second part of Uriel Barthélémi’s Souls’ Landscapes, an encore performance of Le Cargo by Faustin Linyekula and a screening of Edouard Glissant: One World in Relation by Manthia Diawara.

*Free public buses to Kalba Ice Factory and other off-site installations will be available every Saturday throughout SB12, departing at 11:00 am from SAF Art Spaces.