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Dawoud Bey in Unsettled Objects

Sharjah Art Foundation presents the exhibition Unsettled Objects, which features a wide range of contemporary artworks, including notable new acquisitions from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection. Designed to create conversations through thought-provoking individual experiences, the exhibition is composed of a constellation of salon hangs that take on the circular shape of The Flying Saucer, the Foundation’s newly restored architectural landmark.

This major exhibition draws its title from a significant new acquisition by the late conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten. Unsettled Objects (1968–1969) is a slide carousel projection that unfolds hidden characteristics behind the foundational artefacts of Western museum collections. Where do these objects come from? Are the keepers of these entities entitled to hold them, and if so, under what jurisdiction? Anchored by newly acquired and rarely seen works from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection, this exhibition reveals artists and works that encourage the viewer to reconsider how the creative imagination is constructed. Many of the holdings shown here are by figures whose work has somehow been contested, for example, because of provenance or origin. Also on view is the work of artists who have held multiple identities or personas as well as that of figures who seek to recast colonial art history by imbuing it with the complex multiplicity of people and cultures that have remained invisible for too long.

In addition to Baumgarten’s Unsettled Objects, the works in this exhibition include important new acquisitions by Yüksel Arslan, Dawoud Bey, Huma Bhabha, Huguette Caland, Lubaina Himid, Tala Madani, Lionel Wendt and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, among numerous others.

The Sharjah Art Foundation Collection was seeded with acquisitions and commissions from the Sharjah Biennial and the Foundation’s exhibitions. It has since grown into one of the Middle East’s pre-eminent collections of international art, enriching the lives of audiences through both local and international exhibitions of significant works of modern and contemporary art. The more than 1,000 works in the collection span 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.

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