Sharjah Biennial 15

Sharjah Art Foundation announces late Okwui Enwezor as curator

Okwui Enwezor's final exhibition will open in Sharjah in 2021. The 15th Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates will stage the last show by the renowned Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor, who passed away this year.

Okwui Enwezor, photo by Chika Okeke-Agulu.

Okwui Enwezor, photo by Chika Okeke-Agulu.

Enwezor conceived the 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial (SB15), entitled Thinking Historically in the Present, to reflect on the past fourteen editions and to consider the future of the biennial model.

In accordance with Enwezor’s wishes, SB15 will be realised with the support of Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi as co-curator alongside a working group of Enwezor’s longtime collaborators: curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh; professor and Founding Director of NTU CCA Singapore Ute Meta Bauer; art historian and Cornell University professor Salah M. Hassan; and art historian and Princeton University professor Chika Okeke-Agulu. Al Qasimi and the SB15 Working Group will oversee the development and implementation of Enwezor’s curatorial concept in collaboration with an advisory committee composed of architect Sir David Adjaye, artist John Akomfrah and Ashkal Alwan Director Christine Tohme, who will provide additional consultation on the Biennial. In his written plans for SB15, which he began developing in spring 2018, Enwezor envisioned the “Sharjah Biennial 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.’”

Born in Calabar, Nigeria, in 1963, Enwezor was the first non-European artistic director of documenta 11, 2002 in Kassel, he curated the main exhibition of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, and was from 2011 to 2018 director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, where he resigned in June last year for health reasons after considerably strengthened the museum’s international reputation. Enwezor curated major exhibitions like The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994 (2001, Vila Stuck Munich), Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (2008, ICP New York) and Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965 (2016, Haus der Kunst) accompanied by important publications. In 2017 he received the International Folkwang Prize for his services to the mediation of art.

The 2020 edition of Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual March Meeting (MM 2020) will inaugurate SB15. Organised around the theme of SB15, Thinking Historically in the Present, MM 2020 will focus on the 30th anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial, bringing together former Sharjah Biennial curators, artistic directors and artists as well art historians and critics to examine the role of the Biennial in the region and in the global contemporary art scene. Details about the MM 2020 programme, running from 21 to 23 March 2020, will be available in late 2019.


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