Sara Raza is an independent curator and writer based in New York City. She is a specialist on global curatorial knowledge, with an academic focus on performance based practice and architectural art history from Central Asia, Caucasus and the Middle East and North Africa. Most recently she was the Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa based at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, where she curated the third phase of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative which traveled to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan (April-June 2018).
Born in London, UK she earned her MA in Art History and 20th Century Theory and BA (hons) in English Literature and History of Art both from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and pursued studies towards a Ph.D. at the Royal College of Art, London. She is recognized as a thought leader and is the recipient of several awards and accolades including the winner of the the 11th ArtTable New Leadership Award for Women in the Arts (2016), finalist for the Walther Hopps Curatorial Award (2015) and the Arts Council of England’s Curatorial Fellowship awardee (2004). She has also been cited as 1 of 40 most influential global thinkers under the age of 40 (Deutsche Bank/Apollo (2017), a noted visual cultural expert on post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus (Culture Trip 2016), and profiled as 1 of 5 leading curators from the Middle East and North Africa by Canvas (2015).
Sara has curated several international exhibitions and projects for biennials and festivals, including Collateral Events at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Ergin Cavusoglu’s Middle Eastern debut exhibition at The Pavilion Downtown Dubai (2011); the Central Asian Salon for the 6th Tashkent Biennial at the Art Gallery of Uzbekistan (2011); Shezad Dawood’s first North American solo exhibition at the Plug In ICA, Winnipeg (2010); Practices of Everyday Life, New Image Making in the Middle East and Cult of Personality: Erbossyn Meldibekov and Sophia Tabatadze at ShContemporary, Shanghai (both 2008); and the 2nd Bishkek International: In the Shadow of Fallen Heroes at the Bishkek Historical Museum and Alto Square, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (2005). Raza has also organized exhibitions at institutions including the Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah; The Pavilion, Dubai; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and Alaan Artspace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Sara has lectured and participated in panels internationally at Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Germany (2004); Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; San Jose State University; and Bishkek Historical Museum, Kyrgyzstan (all 2005); Queen Mary University and Westminster University (both London, 2006); Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2009); Intelligence Squared, United Kingdom, London (2010); the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Uzbekistan (both 2011); Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London (2011–13); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2012); Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, and American University of Sharjah (both 2013); Casa Arabe, Madrid (2014); Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Boston; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (both 2015), The Phillips Collection, Washington, University of Sydney, Australia, the New Museum, New York and New York University (all 2016), The Whitney Museum of American Art, MacKenzie Art Gallery (2017), Duke University and Nasher Museum, John F Kennedy Center and NABA Milan (2018) among many others.
Formerly, she was the head of education at Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku, Azerbaijan, founding head of curatorial programs at Alaan Art Space, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and curator of public programs at Tate Modern, London (2006–8). She was an educational advisor to Edge of Arabia’s CULTURUNNERS US tour (2013–14) and a jury member for the 2017 Vilcek Foundation and New York Culture (2016) and previously the 2014 Akbank Contemporary Artists Prize, for which she also curated the shortlist exhibition (2014).
Sara writes for numerous artist books and publications and is the longstanding desk editor for West and Central Asia of ArtAsiaPacific magazine. She is an artist adviser for ISCP in New York and the author of Punk Orientalism: Central Asia’s Contemporary Art Revolution, which will be published in 2018 with Mackenzie Art Gallery, Canada.