Sara Raza – Critic & Curator

Alternative Curatorial Platforms

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Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative Expands with Announcement of Sara Raza as Curator for the Middle East and North Africa

(NEW YORK, NY—January 20, 2015)—Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, announced that London-based curator, critic, and editor Sara Raza has been selected for the third curatorial residency of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. In her role as the future Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa, Ms. Raza will join June Yap (South and Southeast Asia), Pablo León de la Barra (Latin America) and Guggenheim staff in realizing this multiyear program, which supports contemporary art, artists, education, and professional exchange in three of the world’s most diverse and dynamic regions. For further information please read:

(photo by David Heald for the Guggenheim)



ArtAsiaPacific Almanac 2015 Out Now!

A year in review in contemporary art from Asia all the way from Turkey to Japan. Sara has contributed to Central Asia and the South Caucasus for the Almanac. Read a sample here on the art activities from the bedrock of Central Asian contemporary art Kazakhstan in 2014:


Third Text


Sara Raza will be guest editing a special issue of critical art journal Third Text devoted to contemporary art from Central Asia. Focusing on contemporary visual culture from the 5 Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as well as Afghanistan.




Sara Raza is proud to participate in Generation Baku: New Art from Azerbaijan (5 Oct 2014) with Orkhan Huseynov Artist, Baku/Azerbaijan, Aida Mahmudova Founder and Director of YARAT, Baku/Azerbaijan and Sandra Nedvetskaia Director of COSMOSCOW art fair, Moscow/RU in a session chaired by Suad Garayeva Curatorial Director for Exhibitions and Permanent Collection, YARAT, Baku/AZ. For further information please visit


Canvas Curators of the Middle East

Sara Raza has been profiled by Canvas Magazine as one of 5 leading curators from the Middle East in the magazine’s third special on ‘Curators of Middle Eastern Art,’ forthcoming Sept/Oct 2014 issue. Along with Sara other renowned curators profiled include Dr Layla Diba, Suzanne Cotter, Vali Mahlouji and Omar Kholief. (Written by Canvas contributing editor Anna Wallace-Thompson).


YARAT logo

Sara Raza joins Yarat the pioneering arts space in Azerbaijan as the Head of Education and Public Programmes and Chief Curator of the 2015 Public Art Festival, coinciding with the Baku 2015 1st European Games. Sara comes to Yarat with a wealth of experience having devised international educational and curatorial programmes for museums, art centres, biennales and festivals. She has previously served as the Founding Head of Curatorial and Educational Programmes for Alaan Artspace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Curator of Public Programmes at Tate Modern, London and is a noted academic and curatorial specialist on contemporary art from Central Asia and the Caucasus.



The 8 Most Influential Women in Central Asian and Caucasian Art

Independent writer, critic and curator Sara Raza is one of the most interesting and impassioned voices in the current discourse on Central Asian contemporary art. As ArtAsiaPacific’s editor for West and Central Asia, she brings the region’s art in from the cold, giving it critical space in a top-flight publication where you’re as likely to read about Ai Weiwei as you are Eurasian art collective Slavs and Tatars. Raza, a former curator of public programmes at Tate Modern, is a contributing editor for Ibraaz and regular visiting lecturer for Sotheby’s MA programme, as well as carrying out her own packed agenda of independent projects, working with artists such as Wafaa Bilal and Edge of Arabia to draw out the pan-continental links between Central Asian and Middle Eastern artists.

Along with Sara the list includes Aida Mahmudova, founder of Yarat, Mila Askarova, founder and director of London’s Gazelli Art House, artists Aza Shade, Almagul Menlibayeva, Annya Sand,  Gayane Umerova and Natalya Dyu.



* Gizem Karakas, “Attention! Attention!,” (2014) multi-channel video

Akbank Art Prize Exhibition 2014

4 Jun – 25 Jul, Istanbul, Turkey

Artists Berat Işık, Ayşegül Karakaş, Gizem Karakaş, Alican Leblebici, İhsan Oturmak, Burcu Yağcıoğlu – Showcasing emerging contemporary art from Turkey and selected from a pool of over 300 submissions. The exhibition explores painting, drawing and moving image and comments on an array of social and contemporary positions currently being explored in Turkish contemporary art.

Exhibition curated and designed by Sara Raza, Katia Anguelova and Fatos Ustek.


ALANICA-Discontinuous Values_ASLAN_Jul-1

Discontinuous Values’  curated by Sara Raza is centred upon an investigation into artistic activities that explore fragmentation, lapses, loops and a severing of metaphorical and physical ties.  20 artists from the Caucasus, Russia and Internationally have been invited to take part in the flexible residency programme organised by the North Caucasus Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA).

PO Cover

Punk Orientalism: Central Asia’s Contemporary Art Revolution

Edited by Sara Raza, published by black dog and scheduled for release 2014.

This fascinating publication explores the radical story of contemporary art in Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1991 these republics were granted their independence following almost 75 years of Soviet rule. What ensued was the chaotic emergence of various political, religious and ethnic groups vying for power. At the same time a new generation of contemporary artists were emerging from art schools into this changing and divided society.



Akbank Contemporary Artists Prize

Sara Raza has been selected as a jury member for the 2014 Akbank Contemporary Artists Prize and will evaluate the applications that will be presented in an exhibition that will be held at Akbank Art Center between June 4 and July 25 2014.

Akbank Sanat Jury 2014

Katia Anguelova (independent curator and art critic, co-director of Kunstverein (Milano)
Sara Raza (an independent curator, writer and co-editor of ArtAsiaPacific magazine (West and Central Asia) currently associate curator Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah)
Fatoş Üstek (an independent curator and art critic from Turkey, based in London, currently associate curator 10th Guangzhou Biennial, 2014)


Wafaa Bilal Talk with Aida Mahmudova and Sara Raza

Public Art & Time: Wafaa Bilal, Sara Raza & Aida Mahmudova

Save the date 18 March 2014

The Archive, Safa Park Dubai

Organised by Maraya Art Centre/ Maraya Art Park


Casa Arabe, Madrid Spain “New Art Market Scenarios: The Emergent Scene in Saudi Arabia.”

What characterizes the emerging art scene in the Gulf region? What place does Saudi Arabia hold, and more specifically the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, in its development?  Panel discussion organised in February 2014 by Casa Arabe and Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid, during ARCO 2014.

Visual artist Ayman Yossri will be conversing with collector Basma Al Sulaiman, the founder of Basmoca, Saudi Arabia’s first virtual art museum, and with Sara Raza, an art curator and expert on art from Central Asia and the Middle East, with a great deal of experience in the Gulf region.



Maraya Art Centre
Mohammed Kazem RAW DATA (1999-2013)

Curated by Sara Raza

Raw Data (1999-2013) is a site specific commissioned project by Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem for Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah. Kazem is renowned for producing conceptual works that map objects, architecture, nature and geographies by receiving their GPS coordinates and creating a new syntax in contemporary art. For Maraya Kazem will present 14 year’s worth of numerical coordinates from  GPS readings he has collected throughout his professional career. These readings are reworked and applied within an atmospheric installation providing audiences with space for illumination and reflectivity. – Curator Sara Raza


Mystery Play

Tate Britain
Assembly: A Survey of Recent Artists’ Film and Video in Britain 2008–2013

Shezad Dawood’s film A Mystery Play will be shown within a programme at Tate Britain titled Prelude: I Extend My Arms which is also part of THE OPEN HOUSE PARTY to celebrate the re-opening of Tate Britain Saturday 23 November – early evening. Originally curated by Anthony Kiendl & Sara Raza for Plug In ICA, Winnipeg Canada in 2010.

*Image courtesy of Shezad Dawood, A Mystery Play (Production Still), 2010, from Super 16mm transferred to HD, 14:02.


Wafaa Bilal Canvas Cover

Canvas Magazine
A disaster touches everything
The Art of Wafaa Bilal
By Sara Raza (cover story)
*Courtesy of Canvas Magazine

Has the proverbial dust settled in the aftermath of the Iraq war? The question remains open-ended as one muses over Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal’s Ashes (2003–13) photographic series that documents the residues of war. With 2013 marking 10 years since the American invasion of Iraq… Bilal’s practice has also evolved.” Sara Raza (to read full story please subscribe via

The National

The National (cover story)

The Beginning of Thinking is Geometric re-imagines maths through contemporary art

By Anna Seaman – 22 July 2013

From the nature of its title – The Beginning of Thinking is Geometric – and the fact it opened in Sharjah one week into Ramadan, you might assume this exhibition would be formulated from traditional Islamic art, but nothing about Sara Raza’s curatorial approach is predictable. She has taken what could easily be construed as a very large bite into the profound subject of the thinking sciences and offered us a healthy portion of contemporary art that inquires into the creative use of geometry.

*Image Sara Raza against the back drop of Ala Ebtekar’s Untitled (2013) site specific wall drawing, copyright of the artist and Maraya Art Centre & The National


Maraya Art Centre

The Beginning of Thinking is Geometric
Curated by Sara Raza


The Beginning of Thinking is Geometric references the activity of (re)thinking the science of geometry as a visual, cultural, textual and performative aesthetics.   The exhibition will include: Sarah Al Abdali, Sarah Abu Abdallah, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Farhad Ahrarnia, Zeigam Azizov, Fayçal Baghriche, Ala Ebtekar, Basmah Felemban, Fatima Al Qadiri & Alex Gvojic, Mobius Design Studio & Faysal Tabbarah, Hayv Kahraman, Nasir Nasrallah and Jamal Tayara-Baroudy.*Image courtesy Faycal Baghriche Elective Purification (2009) wall painting, variable media  and Souvenir (2009) illuminated terrestrial globe and motor. Exhibition view La force de l’art. Le Grand Palais, Paris 2009.


la Biennale di Venezia

55th Venice Biennial
Commissioned by Edge of Arabia



Rhizoma draws its inspiration from an emerging younger generation of Saudi artists, whose works embrace multiplicity alongside new artistic vocabularies in technology, science and natural philosophy. The exhibition’s premise draws from the actual rhizoma, the ancient Greek word for the underground root of a plant as a metaphor for a bold new generation of artists who are challenging the force of gravity through inspiring projects (Sara Raza, lead curator).

The exhibition will show the works of the following artists—Abdulkarim Qassem, Abdullah Alothman, Ahaad Alamoudi, Ahmad Angawi, Basmah Felemban, Batool Alshomrani, Dana Awrtani, Eiman Elgibreen, Eyad Maghazil, Heba Abed, Huda Beydoun, Majid Althobaity, Mala’a Al-Amoudi, Mohammad Makki, Nasser Salem, Nora A. Almazrooa, Nouf Alhimiary, Omamah AlSadiq, Ramy Alqthamy, Saeed Salem, Sami Al-Turki, Sarah AbuAbdallah, Sarah Al Abdali, Shaweesh – and special projects by cross-platform YouTube sensations TelFaz 11 and UTurn, who will be collaborating with artists to create new realities that reach peer-group audiences in their millions.


Maraya Art Park
Wafaa Bilal: The Hierarchy of Being
Curated by Sara Raza

 Wafaa Bilal: The Hierarchy of Being atMaraya Art Park

Maraya Art Centre is proud to inaugurate the Maraya Art Park in Sharjah, UAE, with an outstanding interactive sculpture entitled The Hierarchy of Being by international, New York based Iraqi-American artist and NYU professor Wafaa Bilal curated by Sara Raza. This spectacular new work explores visual culture through the lens of pioneering Islamic sciences and examines how these ideas have impacted current thinking. This new work marks Bilal’s first solo exhibition and public art installation in the UAE.


Maraya Art Centre
Adel Abidin: Blueprint
Curated by Sara Raza

Adel Abidin Blueprint_Maraya Art Centre

The unique exhibition Blueprint by renowned Finnish-Iraqi artist Adel Abidin, curated by Sara Raza, employs informal architecture and sound to create an large scale interactive drawing. Transforming the gallery into a mock factory this powerful new work explores the architectural and engineering practice of producing an actual blueprint, to explore post-Arab Spring identity and aims to visually address the absurdities of manufactured identities for global consumption.

Adel Abidin’s opening will be part of Maraya Art Night in conjunction with Barjeel Foundation in 11 March from 7pm.


100 Curators 100 Days

Sara has been selected as one of the 100 curators 100 days project for Saatchi as featured in the New York Times and The National  to read the full article please ee:


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