The 10th Sharjah Biennial kicks off on March 16, turning the city into a creative hub. Artists from across the globe will descend on the city for the two-month event, not only to exhibit, but to discover how the local culture might inspire them and make new pieces while they’re in town.
In the past, the Biennial has treated each art form in isolation, but the 2011 event will bring them together under a central theme. Works will have been inspired by a constellation of keywords: Treason, Necessity, Insurrection, Affiliation, Corruption, Devotion, Disclosure, Translation.
Sharjah Biennial takes place on March 16-May 16 across Sharjah. Entry to most events is free. For info, contact Sharjah Art Foundation, www.sharjahart.org (06 568 5050).
Marie Hélène Cauvin
Now living in Canada, the Haitian painter uses themes from her homeland to influence her work.
What will you be working on in Sharjah? I’m bringing my camera, and I hope that I’ll find models in Sharjah for future portraits. That would be most interesting because it will widen the scope of my themes.
What is your experience of art in the Middle East so far? I’ve seen some powerful videos, photos, installations on the subject of war, on the socio-political themes of the region. Some good female artists are working on the theme of women and their place in a Middle Eastern society. To cite a famous one: Shirin Neshat.
Violence and insecurity have been prominent themes in your work of late. Why did you choose to focus on these? Violence and insecurity have been an integral part of Haiti: I live in Canada now, but my source of inspiration has always been my birthplace. Injustice is common there. The huge gap that separates the rich and the poor gives rise to various problems. I think it’s necessary to expose some of the issues.
Canadian artist Brault paints in a range of styles. He is artistic coordinator at a centre in Quebec.
This is your first international exhibition. How are you feeling? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m feeling both stress and excitement in the run-up to the event: stress of showing at such a grand event, with so many artists, and I am also working out of my comfort zone, using new materials. At the same time, this is all very exciting – an amazing opportunity to meet and exchange with all kinds of people.
Do you have any ideas about how you will approach the Biennial? I’m planning to produce a site-sensitive painting exhibition. I will be challenging the idea of individuality through formal notions of repetition, translation or mistranslation and context-related work. Each painting can be seen individually or as part of the total outcome.
How would you describe your work? The paintings I produce come in a wide selection of styles and techniques, from geometric abstraction to cartoons, while borrowing from traditional genres such as portraiture, landscape and monochrome.
Key events from the opening week
March 13-15 March Meeting Institutions, organisations and local artists meet to discuss cultural affairs. 11am-5pm, Radisson Blu, Corniche Street, email@example.com
March 16 Official opening of Sharjah Biennial 10 The event will launch in the presence of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, member of the UAE Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah. 10am-1pm, Sharjah Art Museum, Arts Area
Mushrooms and Fig Leaves Choreographer Omar Rajeh’s new work will be performed by Lebanon’s Maqamat Dance Theatre. Featuring live accompaniment composed by Mahmoud Turkmani, with vocals by Fadia Tomb El-Hage. There will also be a performance on March 18. 6.45pm-8pm, Bait Ghloom Ibrahim Ali Mousa, Heritage Area
March 17 My Heart Tells Me Syrian singer Noma Omran performs music inspired by Sufi poetry, accompanied by jazz musicians from her home country. 7.30pm-8.30pm, Bait Al Shamsi, Arts Area
A Score for a Biennial A Gnawa musical performance by Maalem Abdelkébir Merchane and Yusef Lateef. 9pm-10pm, Bait Al Shamsi, Arts Area
March 18 Panel on Translation and Treason A discussion group organised by the Department of Arabic & Translation Studies at the American University of Sharjah. 5pm-8pm, Ceramics House, Heritage Area
Home on Neutral Ground Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet will host a talk during his one-night installation of a pitch projector at the local cricket stadium. 7pm-8.30pm, Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Transport from Sharjah Art Museum entrance at 6.30pm