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10th Sharjah Biennial

The Arabic-speaking world’s largest art show brings 119 artists to Sharjah, a historic port city in the United Arab Emirates, with made-for-grad-seminar themes such as “seduction” and “dissidence.” Most participants, like Decolonizing Architecture, a West Bank — based group that reimagines the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation, come from the Middle East, but there are also many Western artists, including Sophie Calle. How well can contemporary art, with all its weird juvenilia, play in a deeply conservative emirate governed by sharia law and an autocratic ruler? In past years, some work that alluded to sex was censored, and Israeli artists haven’t been welcome. Suzanne Cotter, this biennial’s cocurator, says she hasn’t “encountered thus far” any limits on artistic freedom. “Sharjah is a place where life is life,” she says. “It’s not a repressive dictatorship. It’s a place.”

WED, MARCH 16

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10th Sharjah Biennial

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