Sharjah Biennial director and Sharjah Art Foundation president Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi has been announced as the head of the International Biennial Association (IBA), an appointment that will also see the transfer of the IBA headquarters from Gwangju, South Korea, to Sharjah.
Sheikh Hoor has has until now served on the board of the IBA, which brings together international art professionals involved in organising arts festivals and events since the body was established in 2013.
The announcement was made during the IBA’s fourth general assembly at the Yokohama Triennale in Japan.
"I am honoured to have been elected as the second president of this important international organisation after serving on the board alongside my esteemed colleagues representing a wide range of biennials around the world,” she said.
“During my term in office I will work towards the development of the International Biennial Association and its mission to support and collaborate with a growing network of members. We are looking forward to the relocation of the IBA office to Sharjah in the near future."
Sheikha Hoor studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, graduating with a BFA in 2002 before going on to complete a diploma in painting at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2005, by which time she had already been appointed as curator of the Sharjah Biennial.
After being appointed as the Biennial’s director in 2003, Sheikha Hoor not only transferred the event from Sharjah’s Expo Centre to Sharjah’s downtown arts area nearer the home of the Emirates Fine Arts Society but she also changed the way in which artists work was exhibited, abandoning the national approach that had been employed since the event’s establishment in 1993.
"People aren’t defined by one place. There are those with more than one nationality, those from mixed marriages, those who can’t go back to their own country,” she told Frieze.com in 2016. “Why should artists represent a single country?”
Following her graduation from the Royal College of Art in London where she gained an MA in Curating Contemporary Art in 2008, Al Qasimi's recent curatorial projects include major retrospectives Yayoi Kusama: Dot Obsessions (2016–2017) as well as 1980–Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, which formed the UAE National Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 before returning to Sharjah where it was exhibited at the Sharjah Art Foundation's Flying Saucer building in 2016.
In the same year, Al Qasimi was co-curator for Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: Two Suns in a Sunset and she also co-curated When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965) and The Khartoum School: The Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan (1945–Present), which opened at the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2016.
As well as her duties as president of the IBA, Sheikha Hoor also serves on the board of directors of MoMA PS1, New York, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Ashkal Alwan in Beirut and Darat Al Funun, an arts centre and platform for contemporary Arab artists that is housed in six renovated historical buildings and warehouses in Amman, Jordan.