x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sheikha Hoor chosen for the curator position of next year’s Venice Biennale

This will be the first time since the UAE’s inaugural Pavilion at Venice in 2009, that an Emirati has curated the show.

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Courtesy Alfredo Rubio / Sharjah Art Foundation
Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Courtesy Alfredo Rubio / Sharjah Art Foundation

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, the president of the Sharjah Art Foundation and the director of the Sharjah Biennial, has been selected as the curator for next year’s UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

In a statement issued by the Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Sheikha Hoor was credited for her immeasurable contribution to the region’s art and cultural landscape as well as for her ambitious vision.

Sheikha Mariam bint Mohammed Al Nahyan, chair of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, said they were “proud [that] Her Excellency Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi will curate our 2015 exhibition in Venice. The National Pavilion will greatly benefit from her expertise and vision”.

This will be the first time since the UAE’s inaugural pavilion at Venice in 2009 that an Emirati has curated the show, a fact that gives the Sheikha a heightened sense of responsibility.

“For me, I feel like it is more personal. I am Emirati, I am representing my own country, so perhaps I have more of a responsibility than the other curators,” she says. “Also, I run an institution in the UAE, I grew up here, the art scene here is what influenced me at a young age, so this is something I am very passionate about.”

Although Sheikha Hoor has known for some weeks of her selected position, she has not yet seen the space in Venice nor has she selected which artists will take part.

However, she does know exactly what she wants to do and is leaning towards having a group show rather than a solo one.

“There is so much to art in the UAE that maybe people don’t know about, so I definitely would prefer to have a group show,” she says. “It is more of a challenge for me, too.”

Sheikha Hoor will follow in the footsteps of Tirdad Zolghadr, the Berlin-based Iranian curator who oversaw the UAE Pavilion in 2009, Vasif Kortun from Turkey who curated the 2011 edition, and Reem Fadda, the Palestinian who curated Mohammed Kazem’s show last year.

“I am very honoured and privileged to be asked,” she says. “I believe it is important to recognise the great depth of artistic talent in the UAE and acknowledge the history of art and cultural production in this country.”

• The 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, will run next year from May 9 until November 22

aseaman@thenational.ae