notes from a meeting, appendix 1. conversation: sejla kameric and i go east [to kalba]

Sejla Kameric 1395 Days Bait al Shamsi Photo G Mannes-Abbott

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Sejla Kameric and I go East [to Kalba] 

March 2012 Sharjah UAE

1395 Days without Red is the Artangel-enabled film which received its regional premier in Sharjah. It comes in two parts; Anri Sala’s was shown indoors one evening, Sejla Kameric’s followed the next evening in an outdoor screening in Bait al Shamsi. Both are based on the experience of the 4-year long siege of Sarajevo [which began April 5 1992] and make different responses to it -while following a woman’s attempt to cross her city on foot. Continue reading “notes from a meeting, appendix 1. conversation: sejla kameric and i go east [to kalba]”

notes from a meeting, on homing in on conclusions…

March Meeting Sharjah 2012 Every which way… Photo G Mannes-Abbott

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As I home in on conclusive thoughts, the first must be an acknowledgement of the fifth March Meeting as such. It brought together over 80 speakers plus audience to talk, listen, and exchange over 3 long and short days -as well as film screenings, exhibitions and musical performance. Inevitably, it generated brain-burn, the occasional misfiring or abbreviated note, and the expressed desire for either longer sessions at times or a pause button to reflect at others.

However, the intensity was generative of wide ranging conversations, links and relinks, discovery and trust, committedness and complexities. It’s a risky venture, with all sorts of intellectual and creative risks talked of and engaged, by practitioners with experience of or aspirations for just such frontier activity. The scent of new and different futures is in the air as is impatience to get there ASAP… Continue reading “notes from a meeting, on homing in on conclusions…”

notes from a meeting, artists on the frontier; resident or nomad? [day two pt2]

Sejla Kameric 1395 Days on the Frontier Photo G Mannes-Abbott

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Sama Alshaibi moderated a panel on Artists as Nomads, describing herself as the least “nomadic artist on the panel, relatively speaking,” secure in a US Professorship. Basma Alsharif, a Palestinian who “can’t really base myself in Palestine” settled in Egypt before “moving based on projects”, a process that has now been formalised through International residencies. “So then my life became a residency” with obvious costs and which have rendered her almost homeless at times -all of which she was quick to qualify too.

Ziad Antar fizzed on stage, to the audience’s amusement, relaying a similar tale of struggling to “create a point of view” in the churn; “when you live nowhere” there is a price to pay. Sejla Kameric introduced a note of caution by asking “is it a life we choose or is it by necessity… there’s a fine balance between a need and a choice.” She said she had also moved a lot on what can appear to be a circuit, but increasingly found she needed a strong working base at home in Sarajevo. [I’ll return to the screening of her version of the 1395 Days Without Red film in Bait al Shamsi later in the evening when I post a substantial interview soon; see Appendix 1 Sejla Kameric & I Go East [to Kalba]. Continue reading “notes from a meeting, artists on the frontier; resident or nomad? [day two pt2]”

notes from a meeting – on commissioning and reconfiguring risk [day one pt 3]

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Shezad Dawood Framed Photo G Mannes-Abbott

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Continued…

Highlights of other sessions included Samar Martha’s marshaling of interesting tales from the frontline of smaller organizations, including MASS, the space that Wael Shawky -Abraaj Prize Winner 2012- created from his old studio in Alexandria. Run on a shoestring, it’s now in its second year with twice as many students covering a wide age range. An inspiring story, presented by Daniella Rose King, I hope to watch it survive and flourish. This is when and how artists can generate step changes… Continue reading “notes from a meeting – on commissioning and reconfiguring risk [day one pt 3]”

notes from a meeting, sharjah 2012

March Meeting Day 1 Falling, Flying, photo G Mannes-Abbott

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This is my second March Meeting and my first attended without the contextual buzz and fruitful ‘distractions’ of the Sharjah Biennial going on around it. It’s worth remarking on what a special and in fact, important event it is.

The March Meeting exists not to promote the exchange of capital in the form of visual art, but to talk, listen, converse and engage ideas of and about the art of now and here, that here being inherently global and simultaneously local. This year’s Meeting is specifically aimed at exploring the relationships between artists and art infrastructures, context and audience.

If that sounds a little dry [and I sound naive], its worth investigating, especially perhaps here in Sharjah where audience is nascent, which also means not yet habituated or complacent in its responses -a good thing obviously. The art of our times is changing formally to reflect exactly these issues, around the role audience or reception plays in the making of art, its intentions, notions of completion, etc., in quite radical ways.

This year’s Meeting draws together a wide range and depth of speakers; from government institutions through tiny self-generating practitioners. Importantly there are artists here to give voice to experiences of working within this new global activity; residencies, collaborations, shifting curatorial practice and transformative technologies. Activity shaping an emergent consciousness itself reflective of geopolitical shifts from ‘west’ to ‘east’ -a change that renders such unipolar crudities obsolescent. Put it another way, more of us are from/in, claiming/reclaiming, reconfiguring/recovering more places than ever before…

The March Meeting was formulated in 2008 with the very ambitious aim of becoming a permanent fixture in Sharjah, drawing in “artists, curators, institutions, writers, producers and practitioners from around the world.” The idea, which is worth repeating, was to experiment with new “strategies of discussion … and collaboration” fed by urgently shared concerns and committed to explore “future possibilities.” This is what someone I overheard describing variant complimentary qualities on display during a marathon ‘art week’ meant when they said; “the content is at Sharjah”

The intensely focused format and high calibre ‘cast’ is a risky venture. Risk is a key quality owned or claimed by the work -and words- of many of the contributors to the Meeting. However, the question has shifted from one of falling or flying, succeeding or failing, to an appreciation of attempts and their related processes, such that they remain in flight amidst new formulations of time and value.