Curating the International Diaspora: Sharjah (2016)


In March 2016 ICF selected eight UK-based curators to be delegates invited to participate in the 2016 Sharjah Art Foundation March Meeting as a professional development opportunity. 

Selected participants included: 
Paul Goodwin (Director, TrAIN), Marlene Smith (Artist), David Dibosa (Tutor, MA Curating at Chelsea College of Art), Allison Thompson (Curator and Delfina Foundation Resident), Melanie Keen (Director, Iniva), Sophie Orlando (Independent curator), Yasmina Reggad (Independent curator) and Jessica Taylor (ICF Team and Independent curator)

The group attended keynote lectures, panel discussions and screenings by notable professionals, and attended these events alongside colleagues from partner orgainsations such as the Sharjah Art Foundation and the Dubai Art Fair, using the Meeting as a networking opportunity to investigate the potential for future collaborations. This gathering of arts professionals is one of the key events in the arts calendar, and the 2016 iteration focused on Education, Engagement and Participation, exploring how institutions, initiatives, curators and artists have increasingly prioritised their relationships with audiences and communities through these three arenas. 

This trip formed part of the research and development for the Curating the International Diaspora programme, which involved 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?

The Sharjah Art Foundation would become a partner for the Curating the International Diaspora: Gwangu programme, along with Asia Art Centre in Gwangju and University of the Arts London in London.