• News
  • Jan 21, 2015

Sara Raza Appointed Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa

Sara Raza, Guggenheim Museum’s newly appointed UBS MAP Global Art Initiative curator for Middle East and North Africa. Photo by and courtesy

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has appointed London-based critic and editor Sara Raza as curator of the Middle East and North Africa for the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.

On January 20, 2015, Guggenheim Museum director Richard Armstrong announced the selection of Raza for the third curatorial residency of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, “a multiyear collaboration that charts contemporary art practice” in the three geographic regions of South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. Joining June Yap (South and Southeast Asia) and Pablo León de la Barra (Latin America) as the initiative’s third regional curator, Raza will work with the Guggenheim’s curatorial staff to research and acquire recent artworks by artists of Middle Eastern and North African origin as part of a two-year residency program. Artworks selected by Raza will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, and they will be featured in an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 2016, which will subsequently tour to institutions in the region.

“We are delighted to welcome Sara Raza to the Guggenheim UBS MAP team,” Armstrong stated. “Her work will complement and extend the research that the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi curatorial team is undertaking and will greatly enhance the Guggenheim’s engagement with art and artists from the Middle East and North Africa, with lasting impact on the permanent collection through the acquisitions of artworks which, together with educational programs and online content, will create an invaluable cultural resource for the future.”

Since launching in 2012, the MAP Global Art Initiative has added over 90 contemporary artworks to the museum’s collection with the support of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, and collaborated with such organizations as Asia Society Hong Kong and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore. Raza was selected as Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa from a group of candidates nominated by a committee of experts on the region, including 2015 Venice Biennale director Okwui Enwezor, Artis executive director Yael Reinharz and Ashkal Alwan founding director Christine Tohme, among others.

“The residency that I will undertake is research-driven by my interest to reflect on non-Euro-American-centric ideas concerning contemporary and modern art collections. I am readily exploring the concept of ‘modernism elsewhere’ within my curatorial practice,” said Raza in an e-mail to AAP. She adds: “Over the course of the next six to seven months I will be traveling throughout the Middle East and North Africa for my research for the MAP project, as well as to create a dialogue with artists, thinkers and arts practitioners through digital media as a way to engage with a wider audience. I also intend to explore the usage of social media and alternative platforms to reflect on current thinking within the region. There are so many visual cultural languages to explore, and I am really excited!”

In the past ten years, Raza has organized numerous exhibitions and projects at international institutions in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Prior to her appointment, Raza was the adjunct associate curator at Sharjah’s Maraya Art Centre in 2012–14, where she worked with such artists as Adel Abidin, Wafaa Bilal and Mohammend Kazem. She was the founding head of curatorial programs at Alāan Artspace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and was previously curator of public programs at Tate Modern, London, in 2006–08. Currently, she is also the West and Central Asia desk editor for ArtAsiaPacific and the head of education and public programs and curator of the upcoming 2015 Public Art Festival, which will be organized by Yarat Contemporary Art Space in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Hanae Ko is reviews and web editor at ArtAsiaPacific. 

Back to News