PRINT January 2015

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Sharjah Biennial 12

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, The Incidental Insurgents, Part 1: The Part About the Bandits, Chapter 2, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 6 minutes.

FEW BIENNIALS anywhere in the world are quite as site-specific as Sharjah’s. That term! It’s sprinkled like gold dust on just about any well-meaning press release, as if to imbue an exhibition with both purpose and originality. And yet site-specificity is meaningful in Sharjah, Dubai’s dusty, low-lying, syncretic sister emirate that is distinguished by—among other things—an endearing mix of Pakistani kebab stands, corner stores stuffed with all manner of knickknackery, and elaborate gardens in which the cheery words WELCOME TO SHARJAH are spelled out in red flowers. A cosmopolitan pastiche of South Asian, African, Iranian, and Arab cultures, Sharjah often makes other cities look petty and provincial in comparison.

Under the stewardship of Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, the Sharjah Art Foundation has, over the past five years, built up an enviable contemporary-arts infrastructure

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