Focal Point

Sharjah Art Foundation Art Book Fair

in collaboration with Sharjah Art Foundation

November 8 – November 10, 2018

Vasl Artists’ Association was invited by the Sharjah Art Foundation to attend and participate at their publishing event FOCAL POINT. The event – which posited itself as an iterant art book fair – seek to present, engage, circulate, sell and distribute varied printed products with an audience in Sharjah, the wider United Arab Emirates and the Middle East. Since only a few platforms in the Middle East, and especially the UAE, cater to the interdisciplinary nature of publishing, this event seeks to fill that gap. The event aimed to present a broad perspective on art publishing, with a focus on independent and alternative publishing practices presented alongside a select number of the larger, more established publishing houses.


The three-day multi-faceted event’s main component was designed around a traditional fair layout where publishers were invited to present their printed matter independently, or within a curated section. This was accompanied by the programming component which included a series of talks, performances and screenings that articulated and played with the dialogue around independent publishing, and the people who make it happen.


The event was framed in an intimate set-up, housed within the heritage building of Bait Al Shamsi. Originally a house built in 1845, its two levels and courtyard space was renovated in the late 90s to allow artists to set up studios in the rooms, and the spaces to be used for exhibition purposes. The location has been used several times as a site of intervention in past Sharjah Biennials.


As Vasl’s role as a space for thinkers and public to connect, Hoor Al Qasimi (Director, Sharjah Art Foundation) invited the organisation to participate in the curated tables section FOCAL POINT. Participants of this section were allocated their own table space and were asked to work with small and/or independent publishers within their network to source all sorts of printed matter – books, zines, editions, posters, etc. Participants were given liberty to work with a broad understanding of what it means to read, write, mediate, edit or publish printed matter under the capacious label of art. Content can be in any language within your network, though it is important to mention that there will be wider audiences of English, Arabic, Hindi/Urdu and languages from the MENASA region.


Vasl Artists’ Association researched and gathered over 300 publications from all over Pakistan to carry with for the event and welcomed contributions from artists, institutions, organisations, museums, galleries and private libraries. A diverse range of publications , including those by Vasl Artists’ Association independently, were displayed in the EDIT section in the six curated tables with participants Chimurenga, African Art Book Fair, Khoj, Terremoto, and Sharjah Art Foundation. The programming included book launches, lecture performances, art installations, workshops and the Asia Art Archive Symposium.

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