National Pavilion UAE - Pushing the Senses: Review of Sharjah Biennial 11 by Moza Al Matrooshi
  • Pushing the Senses: Review of Sharjah Biennial 11 by Moza Al Matrooshi

    Using its old renovated neighborhoods, along with its crowded narrow roads that branch out into small souk alleyways packed with an endless bustle, rich in sights, smells and sounds, the city of Sharjah embraced its true essence for the eleventh edition of the Sharjah Biennial 2013, not only using the city as a backdrop for the pavilions that display the artwork, but also as a binder that emphasizes the works of art and make them site specific even if they had no intention to be.

    Whilst my visit to the Sharjah Biennial one afternoon, the newly inserted spaces injected within the heritage sites struck me as the first sign of contradiction, not one that has any negative connotations tied to it, but the aged architecture griped me from one side and my curiosity drove me to explore what waits inside the more contemporary spaces on the other.

    With work ranging from traditional artistic forms to more modern expressive forms of art, it’s difficult to pick a few favorites but I’ll compel myself to highlight some.

    The Rights Given Back by Liu Wei, structures that were erected for no message or purpose as the artist claims, leaving the point to form freely in the audiences’ minds, left me both in awe and tied to the lack of a valid reason behind it, I saw it as a physical outcome of the artist de-cluttering these forms out his mind, or maybe that’s just my free formed thought on the work. The artist assembled industrial wood and metal into large forms that almost look like they were sculpted. Towering inside the space these forms were oddly inviting in which we were left very curious as we circled around them numerous times, like big kids in a really cool playground.

    Another work of art that I must mention is Session by Nevin Aladag, who used Indian percussion instruments in different areas around Sharjah allowing the place itself to become the composer of the musical beats that emerged from these instruments. This was displayed as a video triptych.

    Playing off the surroundings of the city of Sharjah, the works of art sprawled around the Biennial were also rich in sights and sounds, pushing the senses of the audiences into exploring and interacting with the works of art, forming a personified bond rather than a sterile “do not touch” invisible barrier, and that to me is what art is all about from a viewer’s standpoint; conceiving a connection to someone else’s method of expression and allowing your self to get lost in the message, just like you would in the streets of Sharjah.

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