Sharjah Biennial 7, the only contemporary arts event of its kind in the GCC, today announced details around a comprehensive Education Programme taking place between April and June 2005. Working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Biennial organisers have designed an education programme that will engage youth and children from schools, colleges and universities across the UAE.

"This is the first time that the Sharjah Biennial runs an "education programmeQ" of this kind and we are fortunate to benefit from the total support of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and the UAE’s Ministry of EducationQ" said Jack Persekian, Head Curator of the Sharjah Biennial 7.

"One of the Biennial’s main goals is to engage the local society at large in our different events, and to stimulate and encourage greater participation in, understanding of and critical thinking about contemporary art.Q"

Beginning on 9th of April, the Biennial’s education programme includes visits by children and youth from schools and universities from around the UAE, special guided tours of the exhibitions, participatory workshops with visiting artists, and the possibility to spend some time in the "Creativity RoomQ" located at the Sharjah Art Museum. At their arrival at the museum, students will be taken around the exhibition by our specialised guides who will explain the works on show to them, they will then have the chance to reflect back on the work of art and to react to them through discussion, drawing and painting with their art teachers and our education team in the "Creativity RoomQ".

Egyptian guest artist Hassan Khan will run a series of workshops addressing issues around the "discourse about art and the sharpening of critical awarenessQ". The workshops started on 16 March at the College of Fine Arts – Sharjah University. Khan’s workshops will be followed by a four-day process of evaluation with college students, after the Biennial opening in April.

"The College of Fine Arts at the University of Sharjah is delighted that our students have again been invited to participate, in various ways, in the Sharjah Biennial. Participation in the Biennial is a great opportunity allowing our students to develop their understanding of the art practice and its potential, of what art can do, and of how art can be meaningful and socially, culturally and politically relevant’, says Professor Peter Wheeler, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Sharjah University.

The co-operation between the educational institution and the Sharjah Biennial 7 is so significant that Professor Wheeler says classes at the College of Fine Arts have been suspended for the week of the opening of the Biennial, to allow students to take part in the installation of the artists’ works and assist them in the preparations for the Biennial. A small group of students from the College will also work on a photographic documentation of the ‘Making of the Sharjah Biennial 7’.

“The collective energy from all involved in the Biennial is very powerful. It is exciting to be surrounded by so many passionate people, working very hard, for very long hours, and most importantly, in unison, for the sake of art. We are grateful that the curators of this international art exhibition have placed particular emphasis on incorporating students from AUS School of Architecture and Design in their event. It is an excellent opportunity for young aspiring artists and designers to breach the walls of the College and enter the real world”, says Associate Professor of Foundations and Architecture Brian Dougan, School of Architecture and Design, American University of Sharjah.

As part of the engagement and critique on the Biennial itself, Associate Curator Tirdad Zolghadr, will host a two-day symposium on 7 and 8 April at the Expo Centre, Sharjah, titled "BiennalicityQ". According to Zolghadr, the symposium will explore the growth of the Biennial format internationally over the last 10 years, which is evidenced in the large number of cities looking to host their own Biennial, as they realise the benefits to their city.

An Artist-in-Residence programme introduced by H.H. Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Biennial 7, includes two workshops for Japanese artist Naoko Takahashi and London based Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen.

Takahashi will run weekly sound workshops for children and adults called ‘Voice vs The Voice’ in collaboration with UAE artists Khalil Abdul Wahid and Majida Almazim at the Residencies in the Artists Area opposite the Sharjah Art Museum during April and May. Participants will get the opportunity to experiment with recording voice, editing sound and performing their own pieces in a playful and creative way.

Nikolaj Larsen will work on a collaborative project with students from the life-drawing class at the College of Fine Arts, University of Sharjah, entitled Portrait. This will be followed by a lecture by Larsen for the students at the College.

Sharjah Biennial 7 and related education programme will run for the duration of the Biennial, from 6 April to 6 June.

For more information please contact:

Ashraf Al Shakaa
Sharjah Biennial 7
Media Centre
Telephone: +971 50 5990924
Fax: +971 6 5685800
Email: ashraf@batespangulf.com