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SAF Announces Sharjah Biennial 16 Initial Artist List

Sharjah Art Foundation announces its initial selection of artists participating in the sixteenth edition of Sharjah Biennial (SB16), curated by Alia Swastika (Director of the Biennale Jogja Foundation, Yogyakarta), Amal Khalaf (Director, Cubitt, London, and Curator at Large, Public Practice, Serpentine Galleries, London), Megan Tamati-Quennell (curator of modern and contemporary Māori and Indigenous art, New Zealand), Natasha Ginwala (Artistic Director, COLOMBOSCOPE, curator and writer, Colombo and Berlin) and Zeynep Öz (independent curator, Istanbul and New York). The curators have also revealed their curatorial frameworks, which dialogue with each other as well as with the Biennial’s 30-year history as a platform for artistic experimentation and critical discourse.

The curators hybridise and enliven methodologies that inform their personal curatorial practices, such as residencies, congregations, discussions, writing and deep listening, as ways of amplifying the contextual specificities of Sharjah. The ongoing and existing artistic projects they centre, either respond to diverse sources of embodied knowledge and intergenerational kinship through modes of song, lament and ritual; or lean into notions of cross-cultural alliances and resonances. Other projects focus on communal learning—articulated through weaving, translating and performing—to engage with the texture and rhythm of various lands and waters, and to compose sites for encounters. What does it entail to carry a home, ancestors and political formations with you? Attesting to the responsibility as both host and guest, the curators conjure possibilities of acting and being together through tenderness as a gesture of care, empathy and alliance building.

Collectivity, collaboration and communal sharing are central to Alia Swastika’s conceptual approach. She invites artistic reflections on how power operates in our sociopolitical domains and shapes personal memories, questions the contrast between poetics and politics, and highlights the foundational role of women’s knowledge and spiritual experience in the evolution of our epistemes and the genealogy of humankind.

Amal Khalaf’s point of reference is a type of divination popular in coastal communities around the world—the practice of throwing shells. She proposes storytelling, song, prophesy and sensing as methodologies or rituals for collective learning, grieving, wayfinding and organising in a time of political violence and environmental collapse.

Megan Tamati-Quennell’s project centres a First Nations positionality related to land and place, highlighting their knowledge and sensibilities. Drawn from a concept related to the incompleteness of humanity, her project works with ideas of impermanence, fallibility and our desire to imagine new futures and alternative realities.

Ancient stepwells in the Indian Ocean Littoral and water wells found in Sharjah's historic households and courtyards serve as leitmotifs within Natasha Ginwala’s curatorial vision. They signify reservoirs that avow ancestral memory, place-making, sonic remembrance and cross-generational convening amidst tides of annihilation.

Zeynep Öz’s project contemplates the shifts in the societal and economic systems we partake in the present day, specifically those in response to the later stages of the accelerated changes in technology and science, through the lens of their historical precedents.

Running from 6 February to 15 June 2025, SB16 will activate venues in Sharjah City, Al Hamriyah, Al Dhaid, Kalba and other locations in the Emirate of Sharjah, and bring together a diverse and broad range of perspectives through works of the selected artists.

The complete list of artists will be announced in the coming months.

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