First SB14 artists named

Sharjah Art Foundation has announced the initial selection of participating artists for Sharjah Biennial 14, opening in March 2019.

SB14 has the subtitle Leaving the Echo Chamber. It will feature three distinct exhibitions by the three curators Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif and Claire Tancons; those will bring together a range of works – including major commissions, large-scale public installations, performances and films – to explore how contemporary life, enabled by rapid technological change, has created a seemingly inescapable ‘echo chamber’ of information, complex personal networks and shifting narratives that are physical, spiritual and virtual.

Zoe Butt is Artistic Director of The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Before her 2016 appointment she had seven years as head of Sàn Art, Vietnam’s most active independent contemporary art space. Her focus is on building critically thinking, historically conscious artistic communities.

Zoe Butt’s exhibition Journey Beyond The Arrow seeks to give deeper context to the movement of humanity and the tools that have enabled (or hindered) its survival, From spiritual ritual to cultural custom; from technological process to politics and the rule of law – all such practices comes with particular tools that can aid or abet mobility.

Journey Beyond The Arrow will include works by artists Khadim Ali, Meiro Koizumi, Nalini Malani, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Ho Tzu Nyen, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Lisa Reihana and Kidlat Tahimik. The artists reveal the generational impact of a range of physical and psychological ‘tools’, whose representation and meaning has shifted as a consequence of the journey from ‘departure’ to ‘arrival’, from ‘origin’ to ‘assimilation’. Their record of the migration and transference of such tools necessitates looking back, particularly to the perspectives of those whose histories result from colonial exploit, religious conflict or ideological extremism.

This proposal will also reveal how artists create specific social environments and communities as artistic projects, challenging social practices and beliefs assumed traditional, where specific ‘tool-kits’ are re-validated or initiated in relation to specific context or cause.

Omar Kholeif is a writer and curator working at the intersection of art, global politics, and emerging technologies. Currently the Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Kholeif has held several senior curatorial positions at UK institutions (particularly successful at the Whitechapel Gallery) and has curated numerous exhibitions, commissions, and programmes internationally – his Focus section for the 2015 Armory Show was very well received.

Omar Kholeif’s Making New Time will include works by Huguette Caland, Lubaina Himid, Barbara Kasten, Marwan, Otobong Nkanga, Jon Rafman and Akram Zaatari. The starting point is that we live in an age of constant speed; we barely have a moment to breathe. Yet technological, social, and political change has altered the means by which we relate to images, objects, and the concept of history itself. Spatial and temporal orders have shifted with the advent of a reality that moves like mercury out of our hands and into an abyss, a space of chaos – but also toward a new portal, a space of possibility: reality and history have been augmented by the realm of the virtual.

With all this in mind, how do we slow down and “experience” the experience? How do we make “new time”? This exhibition aims to be a provocation: a singular and collective experience. Making New Time proposes a break in established forms of thought, opening possibilities for ways our existence can be changed, altered, re-imagined.

Claire Tancons is a curator and scholar invested in the discourse and practice of the postcolonial politics of production and exhibition. Born in Guadeloupe and based in New Orleans she has curated for several international biennials and exhibitions – especially for experimental participatory performances like Up Hill Down Hall in 2014 in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

What if obscurity were the harbinger of the future, darkness the start of seeing, blackness the scene of unmasking? Claire Tancons’ exhibition Look for Me All Around You is a call for the repossession of perception; in Look for Me All Around You, what is being ‘looked for’ is not what is being ‘looked at’ – if only it could be seen.

Defining blackness as a state of consciousness, darkness as a political position and obscurity as enlightenment from the low, Look for Me All Around You defies standards of display predicated on the notion of ‘exhibition’ where the lines between objects and bodies once drawn on essentialist grounds continue to be drawn to much the same materialist ends.

Borrowing from the articulation of an early historical call for collective African diasporic self-determination, Look for Me All Around You reconsiders the legacies of broader African, European, Asian and Middle Eastern cultural circuits, ecological collaborations and political circulations to and from the Americas to claim their locality, subjectivity and specificity for the worlding of the present.

Register here for more details of SB14.

Above: Meiro Koizumi, Today My Empire Sings; installation view at Vacant, Tokyo, 2017

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