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Indepth Arts News:

"STILL LIFE - Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change"
2007-04-04 until 2007-06-04
Sharjah Biennial
Sharjah, , AE United Arab Emirates

The Sharjah Biennial, one of the most important international art events in the Arab world, takes place 4 April - 4 June 2007 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The Biennial’s Director is Hoor Al Qasimi, the Artistic Director is Jack Persekian and Curators are Mohammed Kazem, Eva Scharrer and Jonathan Watkins. The Biennial’s theme proposes art as a way of creating a better understanding about our relationship with nature and the environment, whilst considering its social, political and cultural dimensions in an interdisciplinary way.

Jonathan Watkins, Curator, Sharjah Biennial 8, comments: “The Sharjah Biennial 8 is a positive contribution to an activism in the face of looming threat. It favors openness as opposed to insulation, falling in with other attempts to merge together art, society, and environmental issues. It is not intended as a judgmental exercise, telling people how to live their lives, but aims instead to point at urgent concerns in the light of contemporary culture, in its broadest sense. This Biennial is at once a celebration of the natural world and a response to the countless alarms being set off as a result of human thoughtlessness, a concerted effort to convey poignant observations on the seriousness of the impact we have and the extent of our responsibility.”

The SB8 programme will include exhibitions, performances, a film programme curated by Mark Nash and a symposium organised in collaboration with the American University of Sharjah, RSA (London) and curatorial practice Latitudes (Barcelona). The entire city of Sharjah is being offered to artists for site-specific work, and other SB8 activities will take place across a wide range of venues including the Sharjah Art Museum, the Expo Centre, the Heritage Area of Sharjah, the American University of Sharjah and others. The SB8 Art Prizes will be awarded to two winning artists by a jury composed of Charles Esche, Geeta Kapur and Nasser Rabbat. Furthermore, UNESCO will award their Prize for the Promotion of the Arts & the Young Digital Creator Award, in collaboration with the Sharjah Biennial 8.

SB8 will present works by more than 70 international contemporary artists. Those developing new site-specific commissions include Graham Gussin, Lara Almarcegui, E-xplo, Tue Greenfort, Marjetica Potrc, Tomas Saraceno and Marya Kazoun. Artists presenting existing works of relevance to the Biennial’s theme include Rirkrit Tiravanija, Zineb Sedira, Gustav Metzger and Lara Baladi among many others.

Several artists such as Ranjani Shettar and Luca Vitone have chosen to develop works for the Heritage Area of Sharjah - a complex of restored historic, low-rise buildings in the traditional architecture of the Emirates. The Biennial’s architectural and exhibition design team will adapt the selected locations in order to accommodate the different artists’ projects, while respecting Sharjah’s conservation regulations.

Eva Scharrer, Curator, Sharjah Biennial 8 comments:

“In that peculiar time and place, we aim to introduce a slightly different - at times ephemeral - kind of aesthetic, including a DIY-approach and associations to recycling, which will question the love of luxury and the ever faster, “higher” lifestyle, specifically in the regional context of the Sharjah Biennial, as well as our daily ways of production and consumption. Via strategies of deconstruction and contamination, but also through the use of metaphor, humour and play, the artists taking part in the Sharjah Biennial 8, will make visible some of the daily absurdities, within which society exists today.”

The Sharjah Artists’ in Residence Programme runs parallel to the Biennial and involves artists spending a varying duration of time in Sharjah in order to develop site-specific work. Resident artists also get a chance to collaborate with the local community through different organisations and educational institutions.

Initiated in 1993, the Sharjah Biennial is produced by the Department of Culture and Information of the Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. It occupies a key position in the region in the production and presentation of art and is an active player in the international art arena. The Biennial strives to encourage dialogue between artists, art institutions and organisations locally, regionally and internationally. It seeks to promote cross-cultural exchange whilst fostering experimentation and the production of site-specific work for Sharjah.

Cornelia Parker
Heart of Darkness, 2004

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