National Pavilion UAE - The Art of Interactivity – by Sara Al Haddad
  • The Art of Interactivity – by Sara Al Haddad

    Infinite Rock, Thilo Frank, Mixed Media, 2013

    An Art Review: Sharjah Biennial 11

    Under the organization of Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) with the direction of Hoor Al Qasimi, the anticipated 2013 Sharjah Biennial comes to its eleventh edition. Showcasing over 100 selected artists ranging from filmmakers to performers; selected are artists with works that are inspired by cultural diversities and convey identity reflections. For this years biennial, the intervention between the private and public space courtyards, particularly in Sharjah, created a platform for the curator, Yuko Hasegawa’s theme; Re: emerge, Towards a New Cultural Cartography (Guidebook, Sharjah Biennial 11, 2013,  8).

    Using four venues (Sharjah Art Foundation Al Mureijah, Calligraphy Square, Bank Street and Arts Area Al Shuweiheen), 24 artists were commissioned to produce site-specific works exhibited throughout the Art and Heritage area, including the new SAF spaces and the courtyards. Those art interventions that occupy the courtyard spaces allow the viewer to interact and engage with the works on a personal level, prompting intimacy between the viewer, the artwork and the space. Several works occupying courtyards include “Bubble” by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, where steel-made stools paired in three’s in three different locations surrounded by giant acrylic bubbles, placed in the Calligraphy Square courtyard; in the Arts Area, Thilo Frank’s installation, “Infinite Rock”, an asymmetrical geometric form is placed in the middle, drawing the viewer’s attention with its black fabric cover.

    In fact, it is the black fabric cover that draws the viewer’s attention to the work, complimenting its polyhedral shape in the courtyard. Confronted with a dark path, the viewer enters the space to find themself in a different realm, a cube space completely covered in glass mirrors, lights and a center placed swing. There are infinite reflections of oneself. However, it is the perplexity of the green tinted glass, which adds a hypnotizing atmosphere and draws the visitor more towards investigating and understanding the work (image attached). Swinging back and forth, one might find her/himself piercing through their subconscious; delving into different states with every swing while being surrounded by complete transparency offered by the distressing effect of mirrors.

    The playful direction of the curatorial approach sets free the child in whoever visits the Sharjah biennial as they are presented with works that require their participation. What makes this edition of the biennial successful is its level of interactivity, which enriches its non-commercial aspect.

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