Rafal Niemojewski

  • Left: Architect Rem Koolhaas. Right: Artist Michael Rakowitz with H. H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah. (Except where noted, all photos: Rafal Niemojewski)
    diary April 15, 2007

    Green Party

    Sharjah

    A giant sign made of flowers reading SMILE, YOU’RE IN SHARJAH greets visitors at one of the city’s busiest intersections. But on the drive over to the smaller emirate from Dubai International Airport, I saw little to smile about. The area is bloated on oil steroids, evidenced by a stark increase in pollution, congestion, and chaotically dispersed buildings since my last visit two years ago. Against this backdrop, the eighth edition of the Sharjah Biennial—presided over by Princess Hoor al-Qasimi and titled “Still Life: Art, Ecology, and the Politics of Change”—opened with a provocative question

  • Left: Dealer Pablo León de la Barra and artist Marcelo Krasilcic. Right: São Paulo Biennial curator Lisette Lagnado. (Photos: Rafal Niemojewski)
    diary October 19, 2006

    High and Dry

    São Paulo

    Muggings, pickpockets, carjackings, red-light robberies, and drive-by shootings are just some of the tourist attractions listed in my guide to São Paulo. Sadly, Brazil’s largest city (the world’s second most populous) is better known for its high crime rate than its high-minded art biennial, the second oldest after Venice. This goes some distance in explaining why Prada and Marc Jacobs were little in evidence and eight-megapixel cameras remained locked in hotel safes during the low-key opening of its twenty-seventh edition. I wasn’t the only person who had adopted “the chameleon strategy,” which,