How the Sharjah Biennial 15 is subverting art world legacies

In 2018, one of the most influential curators of our times, Okwui Enwezor, agreed to curate the Sharjah Biennial 15. The following year, Enwezor sadly passed away, leaving Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi with his blessing to curate in his stead. 

‘Okwui had originally wanted to do a museum show combined with 30 new commissions, and he put together a list of key works from the “Postcolonial Constellation” [works of art selected by Enwezor to illustrate the geopolitics in the aftermath of mass colonialism in the last 400 years], so I took that as my starting point,’ Al Qasimi explained to Wallpaper*. 

Enwezor’s legacy is a post-colonial, even a post-national, approach in which he brought together artists to express their ideas outside the framework of the Western art world. Sharjah Biennial 15 brings together the participating artists in celebration of Enwezor’s vision. 

Sharjah Biennial 15 Nari Ward, Duty Colossus , 2022. Commissioned by MASS MoCA, North Adams, USA, and Sharjah Art Foundation.

Nari Ward, Duty Colossus, 2022. Commissioned by MASS MoCA, North Adams, USA, and Sharjah Art Foundation

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation. Photo : Motaz Mawid)

Al Qasimi has seized the curatorial baton following a global pandemic and within that, a social justice revolution. Postponing for two years also meant that this posthumous collaboration coincided with the 30-year anniversary of the biennial and Al Qasimi’s 20-year anniversary as director. The result, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present, is a coming together of the art world’s Global South and its diaspora, with over 170 artists and more than 300 artworks in venues across Sharjah – a once-in-a-generation event whose impact will be felt for years to come.

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Written by Sharecaster

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