Five to the fore: SAF announces leading curators for SB16 edition - GulfToday

Five to the fore: SAF announces leading curators for SB16 edition

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Installation view of Maider Lopez's work Football Field during SB9.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) has announced five curators for Sharjah Biennial 16 (SB16), being held February – June 2025. They are: Natasha Ginwala (Artistic Director of COLOMBOSCOPE, Colombo, and Associate Curator at Large at Gropius Bau, Berlin), Amal Khalaf (Director of Programmes at Cubitt, London, and Civic Curator at the Serpentine Galleries, London), Zeynep Oz (independent curator, Istanbul and New York), Alia Swastika (Director of the Biennale Jogja Foundation, Yogyakarta) and Megan Tamati-Quennell (New Zealand–based curator of modern and contemporary Maori and Indigenous art).

According to SAF, the curators are organising distinct but interconnected projects, representing a diverse and global range of perspectives across the spectrum of contemporary art. “The Sharjah Biennial embraces an expansive and decentralised approach, an ethos that is echoed by the five unique perspectives we are bringing together for the 16th edition,” said Hoor Al Qasimi, SAF President and Director. “Each of these leading curators has worked relentlessly to advance scholarship and practice in their local contexts as well as internationally. Sharjah Biennial 16 will offer the opportunity to witness their ideas in conversation, culminating in a truly polyphonic examination of contemporary art and cultural practice.”

zeynep Zeynep Oz.

Ginwala, Khalaf, Oz, Swastika and Tamati-Quennell are developing projects in dialogue with each other and with the Biennial’s 30-year history as a platform for artistic experimentation and discourse around critical topics in contemporary art. Each curator is inviting a selection of artists across a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, highlighting both leading and emerging talents in visual art, performance, music and publication. “Continuing the Foundation’s engagement with the many communities throughout Sharjah, the Biennial will again activate venues across the emirate,” says SAF.

saf 22  Natasha Ginwala and  Amal Khalaf.

Curator, writer and researcher Ginwala also served as Artistic Director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021) with Defne Ayas. She has been part of curatorial teams for Contour Biennale 8 (2017), documenta 14 (2017), 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014) and 8th Taipei Biennial (2012). She co-curated international exhibitions at e-flux, Sharjah Art Foundation, Hamburger Bahnhof - Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart, ifa Gallery, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, L’ appartement 22, Muzeum Sztuki w Lodzi, MCA Chicago, 56th Venice Biennale, SAVVY Contemporary and Zeitz MOCAA. She is a widely published author who focuses on contemporary art, visual culture and social justice.

megan   Megan Tamati-Quennell.

Khalaf is also an artist and has developed residencies, exhibitions and collaborative research projects at the intersection of arts and social justice. Projects at the Serpentine include the launch of the Edgware Road Project/Centre for Possible Studies (2009–2014), Radio Ballads (2019–2022) and Sensing the Planet (2021). She curated the Bahrain Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale (2019) and co-directed the Global Art Forum at Art Dubai (2016). She is a trustee of Mophradat, Athens, and not/nowhere, London, and is a founding member of the GCC art collective. Her work, exhibitions and research have also been presented at MoMA PS1, New York; Sharjah Art Foundation; Whitney Biennial, New York; Musse d’Art Moderne de Paris; Berlin Biennale; Fridericianum, Kassel; and New Museum, New York, among others.

Oz is a curator and writer who was co-founder and director of the Spot Production Fund, Istanbul (2011–2017), during which time she curated the series Produce (I, II, III), commissioning over 30 projects. She curated the off-site Sharjah Biennial 13 project Bahar in Istanbul (2017) as SB13 interlocutor and has edited and brought out many publications. Her other curatorial projects include Abou Farid’s War, TBA21 on st_age (2021); BACA Award exhibition of Marwan Rechmaoui’s work, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, and Sharjah Art Foundation (both 2019); Pavilion of Turkey, 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Aichi Triennale 3 (2016); and Greatest Common Factor, SALT, Istanbul (2016). Oz taught at Bogazici University, Istanbul (2015–2020), and served on the curricular and selection committees of the Home Workspace Program, Ashkal Alwan.

alia  Alia Swastika.

Swastika is a curator, researcher and writer whose practice over ten years has expanded on issues and perspectives of decoloniality and feminism. Her different projects involve decentralising art, rewriting art history and encouraging local activism. She researches Indonesian female artists during Indonesia’s New Order and she established and was Program Director for Ark Galerie, Yogyakarta (2007–2017). She was co-curator for the Biennale Jogja XI Equator #1 (2011); co-artistic director of the 9th Gwangju Biennale (2012) and roundtable curator for contemporary art exhibitions for the Europalia Arts Festival (2017), including presentations at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam; M HKA, Antwerp and SMAK Ghent, Belgium. Her research on Indonesian women artists during the New Order was published in 2019.

Tamati-Quennell is a writer and curator who, with a 33-year curatorial practice, has held positions at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Govett Brewster Art Gallery. Although her exhibition history is rooted strongly in New Zealand, her expertise spans transnational contemporary First Nations art; she has worked on many projects internationally, for example, in Australia, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States.

Her research interests include contemporary Maori art; Maori modernism; Maori women artists,1930 to today; international First Nations art; First Nations and non-western art in transnational contexts; and First Nations art curatorial praxis. She is the co-editor of Becoming Our Future: Global Indigenous Curatorial Practice (ARP Books, 2020), which reflects on international indigenous methodologies in curatorial practice from Canada, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australia. She is of Te Atiawa, Ngati Mutunga, Ngai Tahu and Kati Mamoe Maori descent.

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