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sharjah statment

Your Highness Doctor Shaikh Sultan al Qasimi it gives me great pleasure to announce the report of the jury for the Sharjah Biennial 2007 Art Prize. The jury consisted of Negar Azimi, Geeta Kapoor and myself, Charles Esche.

The jury would first like to complement the curators on a well-researched and excellently presented biennial. We particularly appreciate the efforts that were made to engage the artists with the here and now of this place and its surrounding region, while maintaining a wide internationalist vision. Many of the works were produced under the auspices of the biennial and demonstrate the continuing investigative potential of this form of art exhibition to offer fresh insights into existing debates and locations as well as reveal unrecognised aspects of society for us to consider anew. Such a compliment cannot be paid to so many of the now numerous global biennials and it is much to the credit of both curators and artists that they have achieved this. There is also a very visible criticality to many of the new commissions that is both impressive and moving, as well as a mark of the success of the Sharjah biennial founders in opening the field for debate here and welcoming the potential of contemporary art to tell us something about the ground on which we stand.

Before I announce the winners, we would like as a jury to commend two younger artists. Their work demonstrated a promising engagement with this region, where they are based, yet also spoke to wider, global realities. The artists are: Noor Al-Bastaki and Huda Saeed Saif and we would like to thank you warmly for your presentations.

And now to the prizes. In view of the high quality and range of the work in this biennial, we have decided to award three equal first prizes of USD10.000 to three equally deserving artists. Our criteria for the selection were based on a numberof considerations:

  1. We looked especially attentively at work that was produced for this biennial with an awareness of the social and political events happening in the region.
  2. We took account  of where the artists were based, or where they have relocated, always trying to think through the consequences of geography while remaining open to exceptional work from anywhere.
  3. We thought about the level of experience of the artist and sought to award the prizes to works that were of a substantial scale and ambition by artists that were no longer at the very beginning of their careers.

On a personal note, I would like to thank my colleagues Negar Azimi and Geeta Kapoor for making the judging process extremely enjoyable. We had fascinating discussions but also came to relatively rapid agreement. This was based on a closely shared sense of the cultural and political urgencies of the moment and how they can be expressed in art

For her deeply personal integration of the body and architecture as well as death and regeneration, and especially for her extraordinary performance/installation in which she wrapped an abandoned building in the Heritage Area of Sharjah with pink quilt material using her own labour and physical capacity, we award the first first-equal prize to: AMAL KENAWY.