Friday’s The National had an interesting article by Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, which responds to the criticism that Middle Eastern cities are “importing culture” from the West. First, it makes the Sharjah Biennial sound like a great party:
The golf course at the Hyatt Regency Dubai is lit up like a 1970s mafia wedding; 24 strands of round, retro light bulbs cascade over the green below like ribbons on an electrified maypole. The artist Khalil Rabah, who directs the Riwaq Biennial in Ramallah, is dancing in his sunglasses despite the darkness of the night. Around him gyrates a throng of artists, curators, friends and colleagues, most of whom are, at this point, barefoot. Rasha Salti, a curator from Beirut, is looping graceful semi-circles around the lawn. Tarek Abou el Fetouh, a curator from Cairo, is waving a scarf above his head and doing what can only be described as a disco dabkeh.
Barefoot international dance parties are surely evidence of a thriving contemporary art scene in the Middle East. The writer goes on to argue that the most urgent task facing cultural institutions in the Middle East is to help this network grow and flourish – as the Sharjah Biennial is doing through its commissioning program:
When asked about the Emirati art scene in relation to other cities in the region, during a talk with journalists on the UAE’s Venice pavilion, curator Tirdad Zolghadr said: “What’s different here is that there is very little infrastructure. Artists need production grants. They need schools. They need places to hang out.” The Sharjah Biennial, if it becomes the place, entity and organisation that Jack Persekian wants it to be, may actually meet those needs.
Read the full article here.
- Michael Connor