This week on my podcast “Conversations About Art” I spoke with Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, a curator who established the Foundation in 2009 as a catalyst and advocate for the arts, not only in Sharjah, UAE, but also in the region and across the world. With a passion for supporting experimentation and innovation in the arts, Al Qasimi has continuously expanded the scope of the Foundation to include major international touring exhibitions; artist and curator residencies in visual art, film and music; commissions and production grants for emerging artists; publications and publication grants; performance and film festivals; architectural research and restoration; and a wide range of educational programming in Sharjah for both children and adults.
In 2003, Al Qasimi co-curated Sharjah Biennial 6 and has remained Biennial Director ever since. She is currently curating the upcoming Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present (2023). Under her leadership, Sharjah Biennial has become an internationally recognised platform for contemporary artists, curators and cultural producers. Her leadership in the field led to her election as President of the International Biennial Association (IBA) in 2017, an appointment that transferred IBA’s headquarters to Sharjah. In addition to her role at the Foundation, Al Qasimi also serves as the President of The Africa Institute and President and Director of the Sharjah Architectural Triennial, which inaugurated its first edition in November 2019.
She and I spoke about chance moments, the history of the place, the Africa Institute, “thinking historically in the present”, not rushing, decentralizing, doing less, telling you own history, not pursuing things that don’t work, and counting experiences!