Fikra Graphic Design Biennial 01
Elseed Building, Sharjah
– 30 November 2018
This year, the inaugural Fikra Graphic Design Biennial takes place in Sharjah, the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Its title heralds the entirely fictional “Ministry of Graphic Design”, inspired by the UAE’s actual government structure which includes Ministers of State for Happiness and Artificial Intelligence.
Over a period of three weeks, attendees will present, research, and explore contemporary graphic design, at an event aimed at both professionals and the general public. According to Prem Krishnamurthy,one of the Biennial’s three artistic directors, the Biennale sees “graphic design as integral to contemporary civic life, forming nearly every medium, message, and communication we encounter today. […] the exhibition challenges the public perception of the field and experiments beyond accepted disciplinary boundaries. Our goal is to start a dialogue around what graphic design could accomplish tomorrow.” Projects are presented in different formats, international or regional, in five (fictional) departments: the Department of Graphic Optimism, Department of Flying Saucers, Department of Dematerialising Language, Department of Non-Binaries and Department of Mapping Margins. Each one is headed by a different curator and spread over five floors of the exhibition building. One example of the exhibition’s focus is its exploration of visual culture in the United Arab Emirates after the state’s foundation in the 1970s. Four initiatives known as Seendosi, Public Fiction, Foundland, and Turbo make use of the Biennial space for workshops, lectures, parties, and pop-up shops, while the eight installations from the “Department of Dematerialising Language” question connections between language and its visual forms in order to create new modes of communication. The “Office of the Archive” will record the Biennial throughout. Tetsuya Goto and Saki Ho will be collecting objects and impressions, and visitors are also invited to participate with smartphones, pen, and paper.