March Meeting 2009
Who is making art in the Arab world and why? Who is promoting, exhibiting and selling it, and to whom? In what way does it address contemporary Arab identity and society? How will the global economic climate affect it? And what does the future hold for those involved in the intricate and tangled chain of artistic production?
The March Meeting 2009 is a global gathering of art professionals and institutions who will meet to debate these topics, as well as a host of related issues dealing with the production and dissemination of art in the Arab world. An open-access event, there will be presentations by key speakers, as well as a programme of workshops and group sessions. With the participation of over 40 institutions, from the Arab world and beyond, the stage is set for a far-reaching and in-depth analysis and debate on the current state and future of the Middle East’s rapidly expanding art scene.
The Meeting will take place at Beit al Shamsi from March 16 to 18, coinciding with the opening of the Sharjah Biennial on March 17. Since its first edition in 1993, the Sharjah Biennial has worked to provide a platform and place of discussion for artists, art practitioners, organisations and institutions.
Twenty-four delegates attended the inaugural 2008 March Meetings and took part in a rich and intellectually charged series of debates on the future of the region’s art scene. The discussions also helped provide insight into the practices and experiences of the participants who were predominantly from visual arts institutions in the Middle East. With representatives from the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Morocco and Oman, the shared breadth of experience offered attendees and participants an unrivalled overview of current trends and practices in the industry, and the opportunity to debate future strategies and directions.
This year’s March Meeting will build on the achievements of the 2008 event. The agenda will encourage participants to take stock of the phenomenal growth in artistic infrastructure within the region during the past few years, to consider the internal and external factors affecting art production and to debate the possible pathways for development in the future.
Organisers have arranged the three-day symposium’s agenda along a theoretical structure that will successively examine in depth, shared contemporary issues in Arab art, with an emphasis on analyzing the mechanics of art education, curatorial practices, writing, translation and art publishing in the Middle East.
Young Curators Workshop
In addition to the March Meeting, Sharjah Biennial, and in collaboration with Tate and the International Curators Forum will host the Young Curators Workshop, a week-long series of seminars and workshops for emerging contemporary art curators from the Middle East. The programme will bring together more than 25 curators from across the region and the UK to participate together in a programme of intensive workshops from 16 till 20 March.
Reflecting the 9th Sharjah Biennial’s focus on defining a possible future of art in the Middle East, the March Meeting will become a rigorous intellectual and creative forum that will build the foundations for cultural and artistic practice in our region. By establishing strong links with regional art institutions, professionals and audiences, the Biennial’s March Meeting initiative articulates and empowers the Middle East’s ongoing cultural debate within the context of a fast-changing, dynamic world.