Oct 01 2015

Christine Tohmé Named Curator of Sharjah Biennial 13

by HG Masters

Portrait of Christine Tohmé. Photo by Tarek Moukaddem, 2015.

On September 30, the Sharjah Art Foundation announced that Beirut-based Christine Tohmé is the curator of the 13th edition of the Sharjah Biennial, which will open in March 2017.

Tohmé is the founding director of Ashkal Alwan, the Lebanese Association for the Plastic Arts, which she co-established in 1993, with artist Marwan Rechmaoui and others, in the years shortly after the cessation of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–91).

The organization served as a crucial platform for the first group of contemporary artists to emerge in Lebanon after its 15-year conflict. Many of these names are well-known internationally today, including Walid Raad (the Atlas Group), Akram Zaatari, Rabih Mroué and Lamia Joreige, among others. In 2006, Tohmé was named a Prince Claus Fund laureate for “her struggle to stimulate local contemporary art production in difficult circumstances.”

After putting together a series of public art exhibitions in the 1990s, Tohmé established Ashkal Alwan’s signature event, Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices, in 2001. There have been six editions to date, with its seventh scheduled to begin on November 12, 2015. Along with exhibitions and programs, Tohmé created the organization’s first public building, the Home Workspace in Beirut, in 2011. Hom Workspace is a center for research and programming, which also hosts a year-long postgraduate program for artists.

Tohmé has a close relationship with the Sharjah Art Foundation, having appeared at several editions of their annual March Meeting conference and having been a jury member at the 2011 edition. A title and theme for Sharjah Biennial 13 are still forthcoming as the foundation gears up for the 2016 March Meeting. The Biennial will open a year later, in March 2017. 

HG Masters is editor at large for ArtAsiaPacific.