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Sharjah Biennial to focus on new practices in art

posted on 25/01/2003: 6651 views

The 6th Sharjah International Art Biennial will be graced by some of the world's foremost contemporary artists and will usher in a new era for contemporary art in the Gulf, according to the organisers. It will be the first time that art's 'new practices' have taken centre-stage at the Biennial, and it will bring to the region aspects of art still largely unknown in the Arab world. The ground-breaking nature of the Biennial was stressed by director Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi and chief curator Peter Lewis of Goldsmiths College, University of London. They promised an event "quite unlike anything previously seen here."

The event has attracted almost 2000 applications from artists around the world. But a decision to allocate vastly increased space to each artist has restricted participation to around l00. One of the best known is Japan's Tatsumi Orimoto- an acclaimed performance artist and cult hero of the art world. Other big names include Korea's Ahn Pil Yun, Singaporean artist S. Chandrasekaran and the UAE's Hassan Sharif. Thirty-five nationalities from 28 countries will take part in the event which runs from April 8 to May 8.

The European presence includes artists from Italy, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Netherlands, Greece and the United Kingdom. The Asian representation spans mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Bangladesh. The United States has a large contingent and there will also be artists from Mexico and South Africa.

The Gulf and wider Arab world will play a central part in the Biennial with artists from the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, Iran and Iraq. The full list of participating artists is currently being finalised, but Peter Lewis said it will be "a roll call of creativity, controversy and excitement-all that's best in the world of contemporary art."

"The term 'new practices' has been applied to installation, video, photographic and performance art and, more recently, to digital and web art. These 'new practices' are now established in the West, but in the Arab world they really are quite new. The Biennial will be held at the new Expo Centre and the Sharjah Art Museum. Projects will also be mounted in the Heritage and Old Town areas and at Sharjah Fine Total prize money in excess of $US 50,000(Dhs182,500) is on offer to participating artists, including a grand award of more than $US 8,000 to the winner of the "Sharjah Fine Art Creativity Prize."

The Biennial is organized by the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information under the patronage of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. (The Gulf Today)


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