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This series of talks features leaders and innovators from the worlds of art, business and philanthropy exploring the latest global trends.


Presentation of the ArtNow Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lahore Biennial discussion was followed by the presentation of the ArtNow Lifetime Award which honoured Pakistani individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts. ArtNow founder Fawzia Naqvi presented the 2016 award to one of the most important representatives of Pakistan’s art scene, Imran Qureshi.

Fawzia Naqvi is CEO of Al Nissa Communications and Editor in Chief of Pakistan’s online contemporary art magazine ArtNow. She is Honorary CEO and Trustee of the Foundation of Museum of Modern Art (FOMMA), Karachi; and Board Member of the Murree Museum Artists Residency.

Imran Qureshi’s works have been exhibited around the world including at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan. In 2009, his work was seen at the 53rd Venice Biennial; and in 2013, he was named Deutsche Bank ‘Artist of the Year’. Qureshi lives in Lahore where he teaches at the National College of Art.

Focus Pakistan: The inaugural Lahore Biennial

Qudsia Rahim, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Lahore Biennial Foundation and Amna Tirmizi Naqvi, Director and Co-Founder of the AAN Collection, announced the curator and programme for the inaugural biennial, followed by a conversation between Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, London, and the Lahore Biennial curator. The discussion exploreed the significance of the biennale for Lahore as a city, and Pakistan as a nation with a burgeoning art scene; and the desire for diverse modes of engagement within Lahore within a distinct curatorial vision.

Amna Tirmizi Naqvi contributes to Pakistani visual arts through her philanthropic initiatives for the AAN Foundation, her support for the Gandhara Art Space, and as a collector for the AAN Collection.  She is a trustee of the world’s largest collection of Pakistani modern and contemporary art, and has supported over twenty-five art publications and almost fifty exhibitions globally.

Qudsia Rahim is a glass sculptor who studied and taught at Alfred University, USA and National College of the Arts (NCA), Lahore. She serves as the curator of the NCA Gallery, and is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Lahore Biennale Foundation. Rahim has always sought to bridge the gap between art and social responsibility.


Germano Celant, Director of Fondazione Prada and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, discussed with writer Sohrab Mahdavi the exhibitions they curated, respectively, at Tehran Contemporary Art Museum and at Sharjah Art Foundation, the work of the late Farideh Lashai, taking in the challenges, opportunities and urgency of making exhibitions a seminal generation of artists from the Middle East and beyond.

Germano Celant is the Artistic and Scientific Superintendent at Fondazione Prada in Milan. Celant is the author of over a hundred publications, including both books and catalogues. He has curated hundreds of exhibitions in the most prominent museums and institutions worldwide. He has been a contributing editor of ArtForum since 1977, and Interview since 1991.

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, is a practicing artist and curator. In 2002, she was appointed curator of Sharjah Biennial and has continued as the Biennial’s Director since. An active member of several international Advisory Boards, she curated the 2015 National Pavilion United Arab Emirates at the Venice Biennale.

Sohrab Mahdavi is a writer and translator. Since 2000s, when he edited a web magazine, tehranavenue.com, he has been working by and at large with visual artists. He is currently dedicating most of his time to Nafas NGO, an environmental organisation growing out of the hopeless situation that a Tehrani is facing in a city drugged by smog and mugged by wealth.

BASMOCA: A Virtual Museum for a Global Public

This conversation between Museum of Contemporary Art (BASMOCA) founder Basma Al Sulaiman and writer Myrna Ayad discussed the launch of BASMOCA with its inaugural show which was curated by L’Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris. Central to the talk there was the question of how an unlimited global audience can begin to experience this unique virtual private museum.

Myrna Ayad is a Dubai-based arts writer, editor and consultant. She regularly contributes to artist monographs, exhibition catalogues and foreign art publications including The New York Times and Artforum. She was editor of Canvas between 2007-15; Contemporary Kingdom: The Saudi Art Scene Now (Canvas Central, 2014); and Art Scene UAE: Visual Arts Practices in the Emirates (forthcoming, 2016).

Basma Al Sulaiman is a Saudi art patron and the founder of BASMOCA. She is also one of the founding members of the Saudi Art Council, and Jeddah Sculpture Park. In 2011, she launched BASCOMA, the first virtual museum to present an actual private collection to a limitless global audience of visitors.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize: ‘Now, a conversation about cultural production in the MENASA region…’

The Abraaj Group Art Prize Chair Dana Farouki, 2016 Prize curator Nav Haq and jury members Hans Ulrich Obrist and Omar Kholeif discussed the Abraaj Group Art Prize over the years alongside Art Dubai’s tenth anniversary. What are the opportunities and challenges that exist in the region for artists? How are works viewed and understood locally and internationally?

Dana Farouki is a Palestinian-American independent curator and collector of international contemporary art. Farouki was the first member of the Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi curatorial staff, serving as Assistant Curator until June 2010. She acquired a M.A. in History and Theory of the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London in 2005.

Nav Haq is a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (MuHKA). He was previously Exhibitions Curator at Arnolfini, Bristol, and Curator at Gasworks, London. In 2012 he was a recipient of the Independent Vision Award for Curatorial Achievement, awarded by Independent Curators International, New York.

Omar Kholeif is a curator, writer and editor. He is the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and a professor in Visual Arts and Art History at the University of Chicago. Previously, he was Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and Senior Visiting Curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Since his first show World Soup (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 250 shows.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize: ‘Syntax and Society’

2016 Prize curator Nav Haq discussed the 2016 exhibition and commissioned work with winning artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou Rahme, taking in how the diverse group of Abraaj Group Art Prize winners and short-listed artists Dina Danish, Basir Mahmoud and Mahmoud Khaled looked to dismantle structures of language and systems to question cultural normalisation.

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (b.1983) work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. They have exhibited and performed internationally in many biennials and musuems; and they founded the sound and image performance group Tashweesh. They were fellows at Akademie der Kunste der Welt in Cologne in 2013; and recipients of the Sharjah Biennale Prize in 2015.

Egyptian artist Dina Danish studied at the American University in Cairo, and she later received her MFA from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She took part in artist residencies including the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam; Spinola Banna in Italy; PiST/// in Istanbul and A.i.R. Dubai. Her work has been internationally shown in museums and Institutions across the world.

Nav Haq is a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (MuHKA). He was previously Exhibitions Curator at Arnolfini, Bristol, and Curator at Gasworks, London. In 2012 he was a recipient of the Independent Vision Award for Curatorial Achievement, awarded by Independent Curators International, New York.

Mahmoud Khaled received a B.F.A in Painting from Alexandria University in 2004. He completed the inaugural year of the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut in 2012.  He is currently represented by Gypsum Gallery in Cairo, and lives and works between Cairo and Trondheim, Norway. His work has been widely exhibited globally.

Basir Mahmood studied in Lahore and received a yearlong fellowship from Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2011. His work has been widely shown at places including: Palais de Tokyo, Paris;  Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); and at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Japan (2015). He is currently represented by Grey Noise Gallery, Dubai.