For better or worse, an “echo chamber” is apt way of visualizing what it feels like to be in the world today. The concept of a domain where we encounter ideas and opinions that resonate with our own potently speaks to the current media landscape. The way we consume content can feel like a “choose your own adventure” novel, from the personalized stories you’re served on a chosen online news platform, to the suggested shows and movies you may watch on Netflix.
“Leaving the Echo Chamber” is the premise of the Sharjah Biennial 14 (SB14), organized by Sharjah Art Foundation and curated by Claire Tancons, Omar Kholeif, and Zoe Butt. With sites across the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, the biennial opened during the first weekend of March with over 80 participating artists from around the globe. Now in its 14th edition, the sprawling exhibition has culled a loyal community of artists, writers, and thinkers from the Gulf region and beyond, and this year, the inherent scale and chorus of interweaving voices challenge the very concept of an echo chamber.
After traveling to the U.A.E. to unearth the unique and enthralling offerings of SB14, we share below five of the most compelling presentations (all works dated 2019).