Hoor Al Qasimi to helm 25th Biennale of Sydney

Arab curator and President of the International Biennial Association, Hoor Al Qasimi says the 25th Biennale of Sydney will have a multidisciplinary and multicultural focus.
25th Biennale of Sydney Artistic Director, Hoor Al Qasimi. Photo: Dan Boud. A woman with light brown skin, gradient brown hair, wearing lipstick, a blue velvet blazer and smiling at the camera.

The Biennale of Sydney today (16 May) announced Arab curator Hoor Al Qasimi as Artistic Director of its 25th iteration, to be held from 7 March to 8 June in 2026. Al Qasimi is the eighth woman appointed for the position.

Al Qasimi is a familiar name on the international biennale circuit. In 2009 she founded the Sharjah Art Foundation, and has been Director of Sharjah Biennial since 2002. She was appointed as President of the International Biennial Association (IBA) in 2017 and Artistic Director of the sixth Aichi Triennale, Japan in 2025 – the first person outside of Japan to be chosen for the role .

For the 25th Biennale of Sydney, Al Qasimi has highlighted her multidisciplinary interests and the desire to reflect the city of Sydney. ‘Sydney has a multicultural community at its core, with people from different cultures from across the world choosing and calling this vibrant city as their home. I’m interested in exploring the multifaceted cultures and perspectives within this city, working with local artists and communities, as well as bringing new voices to the Biennale,’ she said.

‘It is an honour and privilege to be nominated and then selected to be Artistic Director of the 25th Biennale of Sydney, which I have been visiting for over a decade now. I have seen the developments over the years, including the amplification of Indigenous voices both local and global, which has made it an essential platform for rewriting art history.’

In the past decade, Al Qasimi has visited every iteration of the Biennale and, for over 20 years, worked extensively with mediums including film, music, dance, architecture, talks, publications and more.

Al Qasimi holds an MA in curating contemporary art from the Royal College of Art, London, and is the youngest daughter of Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the 18th ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah. The Sharjah Biennial was founded by her father and uncle, before Al Qasimi took over and shifted its vision to include emerging artists, as well as music and film.

In 2019, Al Qasimi was recognised with the Asia Game Changer Awards for ‘broadening the scope of art in the Gulf and beyond’.

Al Qasimi’s curatorial approach centres on the histories of each place with an emphasis on collaboration, and supporting experimentation and innovation in the arts.

Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney said, ‘Community, culture and connection are at the core of the Biennale of Sydney, and a vital component of any vibrant cultural landscape.

‘We are thrilled to welcome Hoor Al Qasimi as the Artistic Director for our 25th edition. Al Qasimi’s profound dedication to fostering international artistic and cultural exchange, and her visionary approach to curatorial practice make her the perfect fit to lead the artistic direction of the Biennale of Sydney. Her commitment to amplifying diverse voices and engaging with local communities aligns seamlessly with our mission to create a platform where art brings people together to connect and learn from each other in meaningful ways.’

Biennale of Sydney Chair Kate Mills added that she looks forward to seeing Al Qasimi’s ‘transformative vision’ unfold over the next two years. ‘With her unparalleled expertise and commitment to championing emerging voices in the arts, Al Qasimi will undoubtedly deliver a program that feels inspiring and welcoming for people to attend,’ said Mills.

Al Qasimi was previously a Board member for MoMA PS1, New York and UCCA Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing.

The theme for the 25th Biennale of Sydney will be announced in 2025.

The current edition, the 24th Biennale of Sydney, closes 10 June 2024; check out ArtsHub‘s review.

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram @lleizy_