Sharjah Art Foundation to present its art collection for first time in 2021

The foundation has also announced its dates for next year’s March Meeting

Al Mureijah Square. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
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Sharjah Art Foundation will stage an exhibition of its art collection for the first time in March 2021. The foundation has also confirmed dates for March Meeting next year, in addition to an upcoming major show on Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet.

The annual March Meeting (MM) will take place from March 12 to 21 with a hybrid format of in-person and online events. Instead of the usual three-day duration, next year's event will extend over 10 days and will serve as the launch for the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present for 2022. Both events were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Themed Unravelling the Present, MM 2021 investigates the evolution of the Sharjah Biennial, which began in 1993. Featuring curators, artists and artistic directors involved in previous iterations, the symposium will consider the impact of the biennial on the regional art scene and its approach to exhibiting artworks in various spaces within Sharjah.

MM 2021 sets up the programme for SB15, curated by the late Okwui Enwezor. Though the Nigerian curator, art critic and writer died in March 2019, he had already started outlining the biennial in 2018 with the foundation’s director Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi.

In his written notes, he sought for SB15 to act “as a module with which to deal with the disruptive power of artistic monolingualism but also as horizon of the possible to conceive another theoretical space for ‘Thinking Historically in the Present.’”

Spring 2021 exhibitions

Sharjah Art Foundation has also announced its exhibitions for Spring 2021, which includes an exhibition of newly commissioned works and presentations by Tabet.

Opening on March 12, the exhibition Exquisite Corpse draws from an archaeological excavation by German diplomat Baron Max von Oppenheim in northeast Syria’s Tell Halaf around the 20th century.

Tabet's great-grandfather Faek Borkhoche served as the diplomat's secretary in 1929. The artist's latest commission Portrait of Faek Borkhoche looks at his great grandfather's previously unseen field notes, conducting a more personal way of considering history.

Included in the show is his 2017 installation work Basalt Shards (2017), featuring 1,000 charcoal rubbings made from reliefs of Tell Halaf artefacts, as well as Ah, my beautiful Venus! (2017), comprised of foil pressings of a figure carved in stone quarried from southern Syria.

Reproductions of pages from Max von Oppenheim's "Der Tell Halaf" book published in 1931. Rayyane Tabet 
Reproductions of pages from Max von Oppenheim's "Der Tell Halaf" book published in 1931. Rayyane Tabet 

The newly renovated Flying Saucer in downtown Sharjah will house the first presentation of the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection in an exhibition titled Unsettled Objects, opening on March 12.

Curated by Omar Kholeif, who serves as the foundation’s director of collections and senior curator, the show includes a major acquisition of by conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten, whose work delves into systems of representation and ethnology.

His work Unsettled Objects (1968–1969), from which the exhibition draws its name, shows slide projections that reveal hidden details behind key objects in Western museum collections.

Other pieces in the show at The Flying Saucer include rarely displayed works and a number of the foundation’s recent acquisitions.

Ongoing exhibitions including Tarek Atoui’s Cycles in 11 and Zarina Bhimji’s Black Pocket, which opened as part of the foundation’s autumn programming, will continue until April 2021.

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