Fikra Biennial: A 'Ministry' in the Middle East to showcase innovative graphic design

The Stand In (Or a Glass of Milk), Phase 1: An Unbiased Teal, presented by Public Fiction as part of the Department of Flying Saucers, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

The Middle East’s first graphic design Biennial is opening its doors in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) next month. Taking place over the course of 21 days, the aim is to provide an international platform for global design collaboration and conversation and introduce visitors to the best and most groundbreaking graphic design in the Middle East and beyond.

Bringing together hundreds of designers, collectives, institutions and industry leaders from more than 20 countries, there’ll be a series of exhibitions, performances, workshops, talks, and a conference.

Organised by graphic design studio and education platform Fikra, the theme is based around a fictitious ‘Ministry of Graphic Design’, drawing inspiration from the innovative governmental structures within the United Arab Emirates, such as the Ministry of State for Happiness and the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

Reflecting the hierarchical structures of government, the ‘Ministry’ will comprises of six distinct departments of offices - the Department of Graphic Optimism, Department of Dematerializing Language, Department of Non-Binaries, Department of Flying Saucers, and Department of Mapping Margins - each challenging different notions of graphic design.

“It will question the very role of the graphic designer,” says Salem Al-Qassimi, Fikra founder. “This is perfect especially for the first edition of the biennial, as I would like to think of it as un-defining graphic design – challenging preconceived ideas of the discipline but providing an unexpectedly broad array of graphic design works, concepts and initiatives.”

An iconic 1970s modernist block that once housed the Bank of Sharjah, and is now scheduled for demolition, provides the venue for the Biennial. The Ministry of Graphic Design will be the building’s final occupant, and its history and heritage will inform a number of elements of the event.

The Fikra Graphic Design Biennial takes place from 9 to 30 November in Sharjah.

Benedetta Crippa, as part of the Department of Non-Binaries, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Benedetta Crippa, as part of the Department of Non-Binaries, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Foundland, Escape Routes, 2014, mixed media table installation detail, 220cm x 86cm, as part of the Department of Flying Saucers, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Foundland, Escape Routes, 2014, mixed media table installation detail, 220cm x 86cm, as part of the Department of Flying Saucers, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Public Fiction, as part of the Department of Flying Saucers. Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Public Fiction, as part of the Department of Flying Saucers. Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Seendosi, as part of the Department of Flying Saucers, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial

Seendosi, as part of the Department of Flying Saucers, Fikra Graphic Design Biennial