The 2nd General Assembly & Conversations program of the International Biennial Association was held March 4-7, 2015, at the Sharjah Institute for Theatrical Arts and was hosted by the Sharjah Art Foundation in time for the opening of Sharjah Biennial 12. The four day event included a public portion that was underlined thematically by the decentralization of cultural production. The keynote lecture, “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Is Afropolitan the Answer?” was provided by Salah Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University. It focused on Afropolitanism and changing definitions of global art world terms. Hassan also highlighted the urgencies of cosmopolitanism, and the need for an infrastructure that promotes both creative and critical discussion.
This was followed by presentations of four biennials, the first two of which were introduced in a conversation between Christine Tohme (Home Works) and Khalil Rabah (Riwaq Biennale) as moderated by independent curator Tarek Abou el Fetouh. Soufiane Ouissi then gave a slideshow presentation on Dream City, followed by Patrick Mudekereza of Lubumbashi Biennale. Each biennial representative addressed issues specific to their event and locale, including cultural heritage, socio-political context, economic circumstance and relationship with the state.
The second annual General Assembly of the IBA was held the day after Conversations. Audience members across the events included the aforementioned speakers, in addition to Yongwoo Lee (IBA President), Gabriele Horn (Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art), Elke aus dem Moore (ifa), Phillip Keir (Biennale of Sydney), Mauro Petroni (Dak’Art Biennial), Elif Kamisli (Istanbul Biennial), Răzvan Ion (Bucharest Biennale) and Norma Campos Vera (SIART Bolivia), among many others. The Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi (President of Sharjah Art Foundation) also attended all the events.
The Colombo Art Biennale was represented at the second annual General Assembly of the IBA by Founder & Director, Annoushka Hempel.