Sharjah Art Foundation launches FOCAL POINT annual Art Book Fair

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The Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) has announced the first edition of FOCAL POINT, an annual art book fair that presents, engages, circulates, sells and distributes varied printed matter and products by publishers from the region and across the world.

Running from November 8-10, 2018, at Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square, FOCAL POINT will include an art book fair where invited publishers—both independent and mainstream—will present their products.

Focal Point
Focal Point

The fair will be accompanied by three days of public programming, which will feature a series of talks, screenings, a book launch, a lecture-performance, art projects, an open studio, and themed educational workshops.

In addition, the collaborative symposium ‘It Begins with a Story: Artists, Writers, and Periodicals in Asia’ (FOCAL POINT edition), developed by Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), will look towards the histories and present state of publishing in the wider Asia region.

This partnership with SAF marks Asia Art Archive’s first official collaboration in the UAE and GCC region.

Heritage venue

As this year’s edition of FOCAL POINT focuses on independent and alternative publishing practices, and the event will take place in the intimate setting of the heritage building Bait Obaid Al Shamsi in Sharjah’s Arts Square. Originally built in 1845 as a residential house, its two levels and courtyard space were renovated in the late 1990’s and then again in 2017 to be used for artist studios and exhibition spaces.

The location has often served as a venue for past Sharjah Biennials and SAF exhibitions.

Very few platforms locally and regionally cater to the interdisciplinary nature of publishing. FOCAL POINT will fill that gap by offering a broad perspective on art publishing, with independent and alternative publishing practices featured alongside a select number of larger, more established publishing houses. All the participating art book publishers and institutions will explore what it means to read, write, mediate, edit or publish printed matter under the capacious label of art.

A list of this year’s art book publishers and institutions, organized according to the sections at the fair, follows below:


With its six curated sections (including SAF/EDIT), EDIT is a principal part of the art book fair. The artist institutions and platforms in EDIT will present content in multiple languages from their own networks and regions.

Participants include Chimurenga, African Art Book Fair, Khoj, Vasl, Terremoto and Sharjah Art Foundation.


The SAF/EDIT section within EDIT will showcase publications by Ashkal Alwan, Raking Leaves, Semiotexte, Half Letter Press, Book Works UK, OOMK, Kayfa Ta, SouthAsia.Art, 98editions/Makhzin, Vestoj, Mantiq of the Mantis, Rusted Radishes, Pages, Migrant Journal, Jabal Amman Publishers, MARG, 3030 Press Publishing, Bananafish, locale, Lars Mueller, Al-Adab, Banat Collective, Eman Al Eghfeli, Sarah AlFarhan and Zainab AlMashat, Khalid Mezaina, Warde, Amina MENIA, Tulip Hazbar, Hessa Al Ajmani, Mouza Al Hamrani, Ayman Zedani, Shefa Al Hammadi and Nasir Nasrallah, and Areej Kaoud.

Independent publishers

This section will present independent publishers from across the world, including Kulte Editions, Blaft Publications, Kaph Books, Triple Canopy, Saqi Books, Tara Books and Bon Art Book Fair.

UAE section

This section is comprised of organisations such as non-profit institutions, art centres and galleries from Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi that are engaged in publishing artist books, exhibition catalogues, artist monographs and other printed matter on art. Among the participants are Sharjah Museums, Emirates Fine Art Society, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Art Jameel, Alserkal Avenue, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, The Third Line, Grey Noise, Lawrie Shabibi and Warehouse 421.

Commitment to print medium

FOCAL POINT continues Sharjah Art Foundation’s commitment to the medium of print.

Since its establishment in 2009, the foundation has published a variety of works on modern and contemporary art, including artist books, catalogues and scholarly volumes.

The foundation supports the research-based efforts of visiting artists, curators and scholars and publishes programmes for all biennials and curated exhibitions, which are made available to local, regional and international audiences interested in contemporary art and publishing.

Further details regarding FOCAL POINT’s programming and schedule will be announced soon.

This event is free and open to the public.

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