Curating the International Diaspora: Sharjah (2017)


Curating the International Diaspora is a project that involves working with curators and artists from culturally diverse backgrounds across five countries between March 2016 and March 2017. By attending and participating in events in London, the Caribbean, Sharjah during the Sharjah Biennial and Gwangju during the Gwangju Biennial, a group of arts practitioners were able to experience and engage with some of most relevant projects and professionals addressing contemporary art and curatorial practice, and to network with a global artistic community, thus offering exceptional opportunities for professional development.

Curating The International Diaspora was an integrated 24-month programme that builds upon ICF’s expansive existing international networks, cultural partnerships and expertise. The project established new knowledge in the relationship between the study of cultural diasporas and contemporary curating, made possible by a programme of focused public events to be held in the UK, the UAE region, South Korea and the Caribbean between 2016 and 2017.

Curating The International Diaspora saw the development of different programmes at each site that took the shape of public conferences and programmes, exhibition and biennial tours, workshops and studio visits with artists to collectively explore three themes:

  1. What is the impact of cultural diasporas on the field of contemporary visual art curatorship in particular? 
  2. Which patterns of migration have been evident in the field of contemporary art curating? 
  3. How have contemporary curators represented diaspora through their projects?

After attending the Sharjah Art Foundation’s 2016 March Meeting and exploring the arts landscape in Barbados and Martinique, to build upon the discourse produced during the Curating the International Diaspora symposia in London and Gwangju, the project participants from South Korea travelled to Sharjah for the 2017 Biennial as the last stage of the year-long project. They were joined by the Beyond the Frame cohort, thus facilitating a network of exchange between two of ICF’s most ambitious curatorial programmes. 

Sharjah Biennial 13 featured over fifty international artists and involved an ambitious opening programme of performances and lectures by practitioners such as Cooking Sections and Raqs Media Collective, that the group were able to attend. In addition to the Biennial, the group was given a tour of the exhibition Ahmed Morsi: A Dialogic Imagination at the Sharjah Art Museum by the artist and curator Salah Hassan, and met with the team at the Maraya Art Centre.