16 March – 16 May 2011
Curated by Suzanne Cotter and Rasha Salti in collaboration with Haig Aivazian

The Sharjah Art Foundation announces the presentation of work by 119 artists and participants from 36 countries across the globe for Plot for a Biennial, the 10th edition of the acclaimed Sharjah Biennial, March 16 through May 16, 2011.  One of the oldest and most respected contemporary art events in the Middle East, the Sharjah Biennial has nurtured the creativity and collaboration of artists, arts organizations, and institutions throughout the MENASA region (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) and internationally since 1993.

For the occasion of Plot for a Biennial, the Sharjah Biennial has commissioned approximately 65 new works for a cutting-edge presentation of visual art, film, music, performance, video and publication. The 2011 artists and participants were selected by Plot for a Biennial Co-Curators Suzanne Cotter (Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project) and Rasha Salti (Creative Director ArteEast), and Associate Curator Haig Aivazian (Chicago-based independent curator, artist and writer).

Expanding on the geographic reach and focus of previous Sharjah Biennials, Plot for a Biennial merges what have traditionally been parallel formats of exhibition, film and performance into a multivalent sequence of encounters that extend from the Sharjah Art Museum to Sharjah's historic Heritage Area, and sites throughout the city.

The 2011 Sharjah Biennial will feature work by 119 artists, filmmakers, choreographers, writers, publishers and musicians, working individually and collaboratively, from Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, Haiti, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Please visit www.sharjahart.org for a list of confirmed artists and participants to date. A complete list will be released in January 2011.

About Plot for a Biennial:

Plot for a Biennial takes as its curatorial narrative the idea of a treatment for film, "scripted" around a constellation of keywords that include Treason, Necessity, Insurrection, Affiliation, Corruption, Devotion, Disclosure, Translation. These terms operate as motifs and serve to frame explorations in both subject matter and aesthetic positions.

Among the central themes is the assertion of individual subjectivity within the realms of culture, religion and statehood. Equally central are questions around the aesthetics of art as seduction and formal dissidence, and the production and communicability of art as both dubious and potentially transformative.

Located within a web of etymological tracings, the concept of treason, a word that shares its Latin roots with trade and translation, provides multiple registers of interpretation, from betrayal to translation and trade, the latter being activities central to the economy, history and culture of Sharjah.

Proposing the Biennial as a script to be followed or improvised also allows for narratives and thematic chapters to emerge. In borrowing the structure of a film narrative, the Biennial is intended to function as a series of sequences, or reels, that unravel or are refashioned by visitors at different moments and over the course of the plot's unfolding.

The curators:

Suzanne Cotter is Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project. Cotter has held curatorial positions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Hayward Gallery, London and was Senior Curator and Deputy Director of Modern Art Oxford (2002-2009). She has curated major solo and group exhibitions on contemporary art and artists and written for and edited of numerous catalogues and artist monographs, including a forthcoming book on the choreographer Michael Clark. She has also contributed to art publications including Frieze, Parkett and Artforum. A Jury member for the Turner Prize 2008, she was recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre dans les Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication in 2005.

Rasha Salti is an independent curator and freelance writer, working and living in Beirut. She has collaborated on a book entitled Beirut Bereft, The Architecture of the Forsaken and Map of the Derelict and has co-edited the publication I Would Have Smiled; A Tribute to Myrtle Winter Chaumeny. She was artistic director for the New York based biennial film festival CinemaEast (2005-7) and curated a season of Syrian cinema in 2006. Salti is also creative director of the New York based non-profit ArteEast.

Haig Aivazian is an artist, curator and writer based in Chicago. He has a BFA from Concordia University in Design and Studio Art, and is in the process of acquiring an MFA in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern University. Aivazian's work has been investigating the intersections between the migration of peoples, the circulation of consumer goods and the propagation of ideologies. Aivazian has been involved in a number of curatorial initiatives such as Roads Were Open / Roads Were Closed, and has written for a number of publications including Bidoun, the Arab Journal and AdBusters.

About the Sharjah Art Foundation:

Sharjah Art Foundation supports the flourishing arts environment in the Gulf by nurturing artistic opportunities and actively pursuing both a regional and international program of cultural collaboration and exchange.

Sharjah Art Foundation builds on the pioneering role the Emirate of Sharjah has played in the artistic and cultural development of the Gulf region. Inspired by the cross-fertilisation and rich cultural diversity of the Emirates, the Foundation provides both national and international leadership in the production and presentation of contemporary visual arts. Recognising the central and distinctive contribution that art makes to society, the Sharjah Art Foundation cultivates a spirit of research, experimentation and excellence while acting as a catalyst for collaboration and exchange within the Middle East and beyond.

For more information on the Sharjah Art Foundation and its programs, including the Sharjah Biennial, please visit www.sharjahart.org.

Sharjah Art Foundation
PO Box 19989 Sharjah, UAE
t +971 6 568 5050
f +971 6 568 5800

Image Credits:
1. Walid Raad, Index XXII-XXVI: Artists 2011. Drywall, paint, wood, colour photographs, vinyl Courtesy of Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Beirut/Hamburg. Produced by Sharjah Art Foundation
2. Mustapha Benfodil, Maportaliche / It Has No Importance, 2011. Mixed-media installation, 23 mannequins, printed T-shirts, audio, graffiti Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation

Graphic Design by Ishmael Annobil /  Web Development by Ruzanna Hovasapyan