Sharjah Biennial 11 - 13th March-13 May 2013


If you've never been to Sharjah, you must know that it is the most cultured Emirate in the UAE, it's less about the style and more about the substance. Admittedly, I don't go here as much as I should, but hoping to spend time there during Sharjah Biennial 11 which starts on 13th March and go on till 13th May 2013.

The title of this year's Sharjah Biennial is "Re:emerge, Towards a New Cultural Cartography", where its curator Yuko Hasegawa proposes a Biennial "that reassess the Westerncentrism of knowledge in modern times and reconsiders the relationship between the Arab world, Asia, the Far East, through North Africa and Latin America."

Hasegawa was inspired by the courtyard in Islamic architecture, in particular the historical courtyards of Sharjah, where elements of both public and private life intertwine, and where the objective political world and the introspective subjective space intersect and cross over.

The courtyard is also seen as a plane of experience and experimentation—an arena for learning and critical thinking of a discursive and embodied kind. It marks a generative space for the production of new awareness and knowledge. Within the network of intensifying international and globalising links, the courtyard as an experiential and experimental space comes to mirror something of Sharjah as a vital zone of creativity, transmission, and transformation.  (via

Sharjah Biennial 11 will inlclude more than 100 artists, architects, filmmakers, musicians and performers whose artworks and practices will "resonate with strands of the curatorial theme: the complexity and diversity of cultures and societies; spatial and political relations; notions of new forms of contact, dialogue, and exchange; and production through art and architectural practices of new ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling".

You can see the full line up of artists, musicians and filmmakers here.

The Opening Week Progamme will run from 13th-17th March and will include performances, films, lectures and the annual March Meeting (a symposium featuring thematic sessions and moderated panel discussions that will reflect on and contexualise the concept of this year's biennial). 

I am quite excited about the film and music programme during this week. Here's why:

Film Programme


Janie Geiser, The Fourth Watch, 2000, Courtesy of the Artist

The film programme is curated by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the 2010 Palme d'Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

It will feature programming by leading figures in the film industry, including one of favourite actresses, Tilda SwintonSteve Anker, Dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Mehelli Modi, Founder of Second Run DVD; Alcino Leite Neto, editor; Khavn De La Cruz, poet, pianist, filmmaker; Jean-Pierre Rehm, theorist, Festival Director, FIDMarseille; Ali Jaafar, Executive Director, Independent Film Division, Quinta Communications, London. 

The programme will include panel discussions and evening screenings that will take place in the Mirage City Cinema, a cinema-architecture space by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ole Scheeren, commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation.


Cao Guimarães, Soul of the Bone (A Alma do Osso), 2004, still, Courtesy of the Artist


Thursday, 14th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square
8.30pm-9.30pm Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ole Scheerin lead a discussion featuring the film programmers
9.30pm-10.30pm Screening programmed by Tilda Swinton
11.00pm-1.00am Screening programmed by Jean- Pierre Rehm   

Friday, 15th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square  
8.30pm-9.30pm Ali Jaafar leads a discussion on Sharjah Biennial 11 commissioned films from the Middle East
9.30pm-11.30pm Screening programmed by Ali Jaafar
11.30pm-1.00am Screening programmed by Steve Anker
1.00am-2.15am Screening programmed by Alcino Leite Neto   

Saturday, 16th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square  
8.30pm-9.30pm Khavn de la Cruz leads a discussion on Sharjah Biennial 11 commissioned films from the Philippines
9.30om-11.30pm Screenings programmed by Khavn De La Cruz  

Sunday, 17th March - Mirage City Cinema, Maurouth Square
9.30pm-11.30pm Screenings programmed by Mehelli Modi
11.30pm-1.15am Screenings programmed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul 

Music and Performance Programme


Tarek Atoui

The music programme will include international and regional artists including sound artist Tarek Atoui who will orchestrate a series of new commissions by more than ten international musicians, including percussionists, and a commissioned solo performance by artist Hassan Khan

But I am particularly looking forward to seeing alva noto's Univrs (uniscope version), an audio-visual performance with a special appearance by Ryuichi Sakamoto

In his work, alva noto seeks to overcome the separation of art forms and genres to create an integrated artistic approach. His 2011 album univrs addresses the conceptual differentiation of a universal language (“universum/universal” as unity, entirety).

The visualisation of univrs (uniscope version) – an expanded screen projection setup – combines a variety of modules on a digital level that demonstrate different methods of audio analysis. The resulting signal processing is shown as a relay structure and is performed in real time. Each module can be zoomed in on, enabling greater visual detail.  (via

You can expect to hear and see something like this:

I saw alva noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto last month at Sonar Reykjavik during my visit to Iceland, and can't believe I will get a chance to see them again. It will be a very special performance and strongly recommend you don't miss this. 

Here's a clip featuring alva noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto from Sonar 2012 to give you a taster of what to expect.

The complete Sharjah Biennial 11 calendar or evensts can be found here. Sharjah Biennial 11 opening hours during Opening Week 13th-17th March:

Sunday to Thursday 9:00am – 9:00pm

Friday 10:00am – 12:00pm and 3:00pm – 10:00pm 

Contact details and location map can be found here.