Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi will curate the next Lahore Biennale, taking place in 2020.
This is the second edition of the biennale, which was launched this year. It is seen as heralding a return to international prominence for the city, long a cosmopolitan capital of culture in South Asia, after years of turmoil in Pakistan.
Sheikha Hoor's involvement also underlines the close ties between Pakistan and the UAE. This is both in terms of migrant workers – Pakistanis make up about 12 per cent of the population of the UAE – and the Pakistani presence in the Dubai and Sharjah art scenes, where a number of artists, writers and figures are Pakistani in origin.
Sheikha Hoor is the president and director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, and has curated many of its shows, including last year's significant retrospective of Hassan Sharif; a historical show about the Khartoum School; and the UAE's 2016 participation in the Venice Biennale, which looked at major exhibitions in the country of the past 50 years.
The Lahore Biennale's decision to give the project to Sheikha Hoor seems a smart move for the young organisation. The Sharjah-based curator brings international recognition to the exhibition as well as a deep knowledge of the art of the South Asian and Arab regions. The first edition of the biennale took place in March earlier this year, with a small hiccup that grabbed international attention: Rashid Rana, a key Lahore artist, was named as curator, but dropped out in the summer before the show over creative differences. The biennale went ahead anyway; as Qudsia Rahim, the biennale's director told The National in March, the project had been in the works for four years, and it grew as an organic expression of the city's art scene.
Sheikha Hoor in Lahore:
The exhibition was largely well-received, with works by Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi, Alia Syed, Rehana Mangi, and the late Lala Rukh, who directed the master's honours in visual arts at the city's National College of Arts. Its roster drew mostly from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Sheikha Hoor is expected to expand the scope slightly west towards the Gulf and Arabia regions.
In a statement, she said: "The first edition proved how even a new biennale can be both a means to engage the local and regional community while offering an internationally visible platform for artists and the cultural life of a city. I look forward to working closely with the foundation to curate a programme that celebrates the richness of artistic practice in South Asia and the importance of strengthening cultural ties between this region, the Middle East and the broader international arts landscape."
Work at this year's Lahore Biennale: