Congratulations to Creative Capital Artists in the 2023 Sharjah Biennial!

We’re excited that the 2023 Sharjah Biennial, Thinking Historically in the Present, will include five Creative Capital grantees: Bahar Behbahani (2019), Okwui Okpokwasili (2016), Carolina Caycedo (2015), Theaster Gates (2012), and Michael Rakowitz (2008).

The Sharjah Biennial, which has been running since 1993, serves as an international platform for artist experimentation. The exhibition commissions, produces, and presents large-scale public installations, performances, and films by artists around the world. This edition was conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and is curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. It addresses the need for institutional models outside of the West that support dialogue, and the production and presentation of contemporary art responsive to our times. Bringing together more than 150 artists from over 70 countries, the biennial will take place in 16 venues across the emirate of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. Thinking Historically in the Present will run from February 7 – June 11, 2023.

Discover Their Creative Capital Projects

Let the Garden Eram Flourish - Bahar Behbahani
Bahar Behbahani (2019 Creative Capital grantee)Ispahan Flowers Only Once is a project comprised of a long-format video and building a community garden in the city of New York. The work explores the artist’s personal relationship with American scholar, Donald Wilber, and his duality as a historic expert in Persian gardens and a spy who secretly orchestrated the 1953 CIA coup in Iran.

Poor People's TV Room by Okwui Okpokwasili and Peter Born. Photo by Mena Burnette.
Okwui Okpokwasili (2016 Creative Capital grantee)Poor People’s TV Room is a multidisciplinary performance work grounded in a narrative of the bodies of brown women, made in collaboration with Peter Born. Inspired in part by the Women’s War of 1929 in Nigeria, the work is a kind of resistance or talking back to the disappearance of black women in cultural narratives, especially as empowered agents of their own change.

Image from Carolina Caycedo’s River Serpent Book
Carolina Caycedo (2015 Creative Capital grantee)Be Dammed consists of several moving image and object works investigating the effects of extractivism on natural and social landscapes, and exploring the power dynamics associated with the corporatization and decimation of water resources.

12 Ballads for Huguenot House by Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates (2012 Creative Capital grantee)12 Ballads for Huguenot House explores the relationship between social enterprise, contemporary art practices, and architectural and cultural redevelopment. Theaster Gates hires and trains a team of unskilled laborers to assist him in dismantling the interior of a Chicago building slated for demolition. The salvaged materials are then used to mend a historically significant hotel known as the Huguenot House in Kassel, Germany.

Enemy Kitchen by Michael Rakowitz
Michael Rakowitz (2008 Creative Capital grantee)Enemy Kitchen is an ongoing collaboration between Michael Rakowitz and his Iraqi-Jewish mother, in which he compiles Baghdadi recipes and teaches them to different public audiences. For the first incarnation of the project, Rakowitz cooked with a group of middle school and high school students. While cooking and eating, the students engaged each other on the topic of the war and drew parallels with their own lives, at times making comparisons with bullies in relation to how they perceive the conflict.

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