Group shows, collaborations, initiatives among SAF’s varied autumn offerings - GulfToday

Group shows, collaborations, initiatives among SAF’s varied autumn offerings


Saba Khan, Gymkhana Bearer with the Aunties.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The autumn season at Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) features major group exhibitions, international collaborations and initiatives spanning contemporary art, photography, film and publishing.

Highlights of the programme include one of the first major group exhibitions exploring pop art in the South Asian context; a significant exhibition of works from the Foundation’s collection featuring artists from multiple diasporas at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, and a collaboration with Serpentine, London, on a solo exhibition of pioneering Sudanese painter Kamala Ibrahim Ishag.

Pop South Asia (Sept. 2 — Dec. 11) at Gallery 1, 2, 3 and 6, SAF Al Mureijah Art Spaces, is a major survey and is one of the first attempts to provide a substantial study and framing of South Asian pop art.

It brings together more than 100 works of painting, prints, sculpture, video and installation from the mid-twentieth century to today.

Featuring nearly 40 artists from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the diaspora, the exhibition deals with multiple themes, spanning religious and folk practices to cinema and digital media.


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It attempts to expand the conventional understanding of pop art beyond the Western perspective and engage with the specific complexities of the ‘popular’ in South Asia. Co-organised with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, the exhibition makes its debut at the Foundation and will travel to the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.

Watch and Chill 2:0: Streaming Senses is a subscription-based streaming online platform (June 10 — Dec. 31) and in-person screening programme organised by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Korea, in partnership with SAF and ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

The project allows audiences worldwide to freely access a selection of moving-image artworks from the collections of these three major international institutions, while offering local audiences the opportunity to view a range of rarely seen media-based artworks on site.

Streaming Senses includes 22 artworks which tackle the relationship between technology and human perception. The works are subtitled in Korean, English and Arabic; a new work is released each week.

SAF 1  Barry Iverson, Ataba Square, Cairo.

MMCA physical presentation runs from June 10 — Sept. 12; SAF physical presentation is from Sept. 2 — Dec. 11 and the ArkDes physical programme runs from Oct. 1 — Dec. 31. On-site venue at SAF: Gallery 5, Al Mureijah Art Spaces.

The work of pioneering Sudanese artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag (b. 1937) is presented in a major exhibition (Oct. 7 — Jan. 29, 2023) organised by Serpentine and SAF in collaboration with The Africa Institute, Sharjah. The venue is Serpentine South, London, UK.

Ishag’s work embraces and expresses different landscapes, histories and subjects in relation to how she has experienced them. Drawing on art from the SAF collection, In the Heart of Another Country (Oct. 28 — Mar. 12, 2023; venue Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany) explores the concept of home — of longing and belonging by artists who hail from multiple diasporas. It showcases the work of more than 60 artists through over 140 artworks in all media.

Following its debut at SAF in 2021, London-based Syrian-Armenian artist Hrair Sarkissian’s first mid-career survey travels to Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands (Hrair Sarkissian: The Other Side of Silence, Nov. 27 — May 14, 2023).

It includes the SAF-commissioned installation Last Seen (2018-2021) and presents the premiere of a major two-channel film commission entitled Sweet and Sour (2022). Sarkissian’s works in photography, sound, film and installation conjure landscapes that uncover hidden histories which are often concealed from official records.

The 10th edition of Vantage Point Sharjah (VPS 10, Sept. 16 — Dec. 11, SAF Al Hamriyah Studios) calls for works that celebrate photography’s ability to see social realities through different perspectives. It will culminate in a group exhibition of works by the selected artists and the presentation of the juried Vantage Point Awards.

VPS 10 invites all forms and approaches — from photojournalism to intimate photo essays, and from film to digital and experimental photography. This year, an international jury will award a winner and four runners-up. VPS 10 open call application is open till July 25.

The annual film festival Sharjah Film Platform happens this year from October 21 to 30. It includes short and feature-length film screenings with awards granted to select films by a panel of jurors, a public programme of talks and workshops and the Sharjah Film Platform Industry Hub, an initiative that supports professional development, film production and distribution, regionally and internationally.

Focal Point is an art book fair supporting the practice of independent bookmaking from the region and around the world. The annual event (to be held Nov. 25 — 27 at Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Sharjah) showcases a selection of printed material by artists’ presses, bookmakers, self-publishers and other non-commercial cultural producers in the field of publishing.

The fair includes talks, book launches, artists’ signings, workshops, music and artist-made products. It is specially focused on UAE-based publishers. In the lead up to Focal Point 2022, SAF has launched two open calls: one for the annual publishing grant (deadline: Sept. 2), and another for the fourth edition of its comic anthology, Corniche (deadline June 30).

Winners of the publishing grant will be announced during the fair and the winners of the Corniche open call will have their work compiled into a publication that will launch at the fair.

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