sharjah biennial 10, inspiration and tragedy…

I know how discerning those of you that find your way to the Fruit Store are; please consider the strange disaster of this carefully [it’s a shame, now, if you never made it to Sharjah, and especially if you didn’t make it to the substantive triumph that this year’s 10th Biennial represented] and do the right thing;

“Dear friends and colleagues

Following Jack Persekian’s sudden dismissal from his post as Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation last week, and following the silencing and censorship of works exhibited at the Sharjah Biennial, we have drafted the following protest letter. Several avenues were attempted before this final call for action on our behalf took place.
We are sure you agree that it is our responsibility to ensure that this voice is heard and that we stand against censorship and insular thinking of any kind, as well as support Jack Persekian’s commendable cultural endeavours in Sharjah over the last several years.
Please support us by signing our petition letter below
All the best”

UPDATE 15////11

Re the ‘silencing and censorship of works’… exactitude requires that I link you to responses from the Sharjah Art Foundation [on this page] here and here.

In the spirit of exactitude too, I’m going to venture a guess that the work whose audio output has been ‘recontextualised’ in the ways suggested [presumably with their active involvement and consent?], is an open air piece -which won a prize btw and which I admire greatly and wrote about too- very close to a small masjid which is so unassuming as a building that I almost walked in to it myself in pursuit of art spread out across the open public realm of the Heritage Area -and this particular installation. In which case, this is not contentious. Or, I disagree with anyone who thinks it is, and refer them to decades worth of debate on the subject all over the world.

As an aside; I regret that the neighbourhood masjid and church that I pass every day between home and studio is not able to make at least acoustic calls to prayer and that few of the City of London’s bells ring either… I also find it very boring when amplified claims to aural dominance between azan, church bells and/or aarti compete but that’s a different matter.

As others have written in the petition itself, my objections are more about abruptness of manner, apparent/evident lack of dialogue and seeming over reaction as well as solidarity with Jack Persekian who has done so much to make Sharjah Art Foundation and its Biennial the unrivalled institution/event that it is today… It might be worth holding onto the fact that what enabled this to happen did not arrive by meteorite -but also that credibility is all.

I’m saying more because I said something… Read neither loyalty nor disloyalty into it [on the contrary I salute and celebrate everyone involved in SB 10!] but do dissociate me in your minds from cheap western jibes about ‘Arab world censorship’… Guess what? It’s more complex and alive than that [the big issues are also bigger] and one of JP”s admirable qualities has been his appreciation of it and ability to negotiate serial mine fields of perfectly real issues… I am extremely sorry that it has ended in this way.

Lately the SAF has elevated my writings to a picture tab on its main page which leads to this introduction which speaks with some precision about effectivity-while also ‘calling it’ right and first on the main prize winner’s brilliant installation…! It is the case that no-one at any point intervened in any of my texts [though I removed a couple of sentences voluntarily which I felt were an ineffective digression -related to a not unlinked matter but one which I became more involved with and don’t want to write about publicly, preferring other means of effectiveness- and returned to the wider, deeper subject subsequently in a text called On Reflection. Just to be scrupulously clear].

Read them all before you sneer about self-policing etc, and then go back and read the Introduction again… If you still feel like sneering, take courage and commit yourself to writing a corrective response but be sure to have a firm grasp on what you think you’re writing about…

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