Christine Tohmé

Director of the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts and curator of 13th Sharjah Biennial

In addition to running Ashkal Alwan, the nonprofit art space she cofounded in 1994 in Beirut and now one of the most progressive voices in the Lebanese and regional art scenes, helping to foster the careers of artists such as Walid Raad, Akram Zaatari and Rabih Mroué, this year Tohmé took the reins at the Sharjah Biennial. ‘Are we just speaking to the same 200 people all the time?’ she asked at Sharjah’s March Meeting conference. And so, in a manner that’s seemingly in vogue these days, she included projects in Dakar, Ramallah, Beirut, Istanbul and online. Reviews were mixed: Hyperallergic thought it ‘generous and speculative, unfolding into something almost hopeful’; the Financial Times said, ‘low-key, dispassionate and lacking fire’. Taking the show to Palestine, then, where Jordanian artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan opened the event with Bird Watching (2017) – an acoustic investigation into Saydnaya Prison in Syria – was an attempt to open up the conversation.