Installation view: Unsettled Objects, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2021. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation

Overview

How do we re-think the way objects of art are looked at and understood? Unsettled Objects brings together the work of over 30 artists from across the globe whose art helps us consider this question while provoking a re-imagining of the ways in which history is narrated and explored. 
 
Drawn from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection, this exhibition presents recent and rarely seen acquisitions from the Foundation’s holdings.  The show derives its title from Lothar Baumgarten’s featured artwork, Unsettled Objects (1968–1969), a slide-carousel projection filmed in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum. Here, Baumgarten interrogates the method that museums adopt to categorise, store and present artefacts. We are asked to consider: where do these objects come from? Are the keepers of these entities entitled to hold them, and if so, under what jurisdiction?
 
The artists featured in Unsettled Objects work in a variety of mediums across a broad expanse of time. They explore concepts of mapping and archaeology, of memory and selfhood, of sight and absence. As the title suggests, their art unsettles our understanding of history by proposing that art has the potential to encourage a contoured view of a collective and inclusive society.
 
Presented in the Foundation’s iconic The Flying Saucer, the exhibition takes inspiration from the building’s circular form with an immersive design that evokes the experience of a revolving carousel. Occupying both indoor and outdoor space, The Flying Saucer comes to life even at night when the exhibition is closed with an intervention by artist Prem Sahib on the building’s facade.


The Sharjah Art Foundation Collection is anchored by acquisitions and commissions from more than two decades of the Sharjah Biennial, the Foundation’s year-round exhibitions and other core commissioning programmes. It has since grown into a distinctive collection, enriching the lives of audiences through both local and international exhibitions of significant works of modern and contemporary art. A public collection encompassing a diverse body of more than 1300 works, the Collection spans art movements from the 1920s to the present day in an ever-expanding range of art forms and visual culture. Reflecting Sharjah’s history as a major regional trade route, the Collection acts as a node that connects cultures through modern and contemporary art. It proposes a reauthoring of the history of art, contextualising it from a South/South and East/East perspective while offering an alternative view that shifts the axis of this history to a more inclusive, intergenerational and transcultural one.

Unsettled Objects is curated by Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation.

A curated film programme expanding the themes of the exhibition will be screened online throughout the exhibition period. Details will be announced soon.