March Meeting at Sharjah Art Foundation will examine evolution of the Biennial model

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March Meeting 2021 (MM 2021), the annual Sharjah Art Foundation convening of artists, curators and art practitioners to explore critical issues in contemporary art, returns as a 10-day extended dual hybrid on-site and online program from March 12 to March 21.

Titled ‘Unravelling the Present,’ this edition of the March Meeting features online talks, panels and lectures bringing together over 50 former Sharjah Biennial curators, artistic directors, artists, and art critics who will examine the evolution of the Sharjah Biennial and future of the biennial model.

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They will also consider the role and impact of the Sharjah Biennial in the region and the global contemporary art scene at large.

Registration for the online and in-person portions of the program is open at the Sharjah Art Foundation website.

This year’s March Meeting serves as the launch of “Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present,” which was conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019) and is curated by Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) Director Hoor Al Qasimi alongside a working group and advisory committee, and opens in Spring 2022.

MM 2021 explores the past 30 years of the Sharjah Biennial as a model for dealing with the disruptive power of artistic monolingualism and the starting point for developing a theoretical space for thinking historically in the present.

‘Unravelling the Present,’ will focus on Sharjah Biennial’s disruption of traditional modes of curating and displaying art by activating non-institutional spaces as well as non-geographic models of representation.

MM 2021 is an integral part of the framework for SB15 laid out by Enwezor. Building on Enwezor’s remarkable and transformative contribution to contemporary art, SB15 will serve as a platform for the exploration of his curatorial and intellectual legacy.

Enwezor was a curator, critic and art historian. Enwezor’s curatorial projects alternated between ambitious international exhibitions that sought to define their moment and historically driven, encyclopedic museum shows.

The Biennial will reflect on the critical work of alternative platforms and artistic experimentation enabled by the emergence of the contemporary art biennial, uniquely embracing Enwezor’s insistence on the art exhibition as an important vehicle for engaging with history, politics and society and the ways in which these domains shape our global present.

“It is difficult to overstate the tremendous impact Okwui Enwezor had on contemporary art and its institutions. His visionary work internationalized art world paradigms and laid out an ambitious intellectual project that has shaped the development of so many initiatives and institutions, including the Sharjah Biennial and Sharjah Art Foundation. On a personal level, Okwui’s documenta was deeply influential to my own understanding of the urgent need to create a platform for art and ideas in this region of the world,” said Al Qasimi.

“It was an enormous privilege to have been able to call Okwui a colleague and a friend. Together with his close collaborators who have joined the SB15 Working Group and Advisory Committee, we are honored to bring Okwui’s vision for the Biennial to fruition in Sharjah. Our hope is that SB15 will serve as a platform to further explore and expand on his curatorial and intellectual legacy.”

In addition to panels and lectures, the March Meeting program will include performances led by acclaimed artist and musician Tarek Atoui as well as resident artists and advisors participating in the residency program that is taking place as part of Atoui’s ongoing solo exhibition Cycles in 11.

Spring exhibitions

Coinciding with MM 2021, the exhibitions ‘Rayyane Tabet: Exquisite Corpse,’ curated by SAF Senior Curator Ryan Inouye, and ‘Unsettled Objects,’ curated by SAF Director of Collections and Senior Curator Omar Kholeif, will open on 12 March 12, 2021.

‘Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket’ and ‘Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11,’ both curated by SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi, will also remain on view through 10 April 2021.

Special curator and artist-led tours of the exhibitions will take place throughout MM 2021, and additional information on all spring 2021 exhibitions is available on the Foundation’s website.

Read more: Tarek Atoui: Riding the wave of experimental, innovative musical forms

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