writer, researcher, editor

— stories, art history, sci-fi, grief, feminist histories, trees, rebels, publishing

Saira Ansari is an independent writer and researcher who employs creative non-fiction to think about art practice and criticism, feminist histories, gardens, grief, science fiction, and South Asia and its real and imagined peripheries.

Ansari has served as a Contributing Editor (Art) for South Asian literary journal Papercuts; Managing Editor of Art in the Age of Anxiety (Sharjah Art Foundation/Mörel Books, 2020), and monographs of Abbas Akhavan (SKIRA/Works on Paper, 2018) and Pouran Jinchi (Akkadia Press/Works on Paper, 2019); and as Arts Correspondent at The Rio Times (2010). Ansari works in Publications and Research at the Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE) and coordinates artist books and catalogues, as well as the FOCAL POINT art book fair. Previously, Ansari was the Director of Communications at The Third Line, Dubai.

Her writing has been published in The Library of Unread Books, Jameel Arts Centre (UAE, 2019); Everything we do is Music, Drawing Room and Cornerhouse Publications (UK, 2017); Rupak 2016-2017, Documenta 14 and Grey Noise (Greece/UAE, 2017); Syntax Freezone: Anthology of Essays on Language and Accent, THE STATE and Maraya Art Centre (UAE, 2015); and PIX: The Pakistan Issue (India, 2015), amongst others. Her texts have also appeared in: Art Asia Pacific, Art Monthly UK, Flash Art, The State, Canvas, Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, ArtNow Pakistan, Herald Magazine, The Friday Times, Tribe, Khaleej Times, Libas International, and Alserkal.Online. 

Curatorial projects include The importance of staying quiet (Yallay Gallery, Hong Kong, 2014); within | without (Asia House, London, 2018); and moonshow (Grey Noise, Dubai, 2018). Ansari’s research focuses on Pakistani modernist Zubeida Agha and projects include the Zubeida Agha Archive, hosted by Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), made possible through the Lahore Biennale Foundation Research Fellowship (2016).

Zubeida Agha archive on Asia Art Archive: link

/ education

  • MA (Hons.) Visual Art, National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore – 2010
  • BFA Painting, National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore – 2004

/ writing 

Texts, publications, projects, etc.: here 

/ intervention, curation, of the world of misc.

  • Essay Performance: Gardenfinds, Bagh-e-Sadia and Usman Saeed as part of Gardens, the ‘Sky and Solitary Walks’ programme Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. 2021 – link
  • Forsa School Tutor / Mentor for module Writing as Practice – an educational and professional programme designed for art practitioners and creative freelancers; in collaboration with Sharjah Art Foundation and Naqd. 2020-2021 – link and link
  • Performance: reading in Fazil H. Mousavi’s performance, part of Khadim Ali’s series ‘Flowers of Evil’ (2019), at March Meeting, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. 2019 – link
  • Co-curator: within | without – a group exhibition in collaboration with indigo+madder. Asia House, London. 2018 – link
  • Talk: Publications of Resistance – In conversation with Rasheed Araeen on art journals Black Phoenix and Third Text. March Meeting 2018, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. 2018
  • Intervention: moonshow – a group exhibition, part of Loser’s Club programming, Grey Noise, Dubai. 2018
  • Advisor: River in an Ocean, a collateral exhibition of LB01 curated by Abdullah Qureshi and Natasha Malik. Lahore. 2018
  • Jury member: Imran Mir Art Prize 2016-17 


/ research projects and residencies

  • Research Curator
    The importance of staying quiet – six decades of minimal art from Pakistan
    Joint project with Umer Butt (Director of Grey Noise, Dubai)
    Yallay gallery, Hong Kong – 2014 – link
  • Research Fellow
    Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) Inaugural Research Fellowship, in conjunction with Asia Art Archive (AAA), Hong Kong
    Developing a digital archive on Zubeida Agha (1922–1997), a pioneering modernist artist whose roles as gallerist and patron are largely unexamined. The project aims to access and digitize selected material including rarely circulated writings, ephemera, correspondence, and photographs that will enable future research on Agha’s legacy.
    2015 – 2017
  • Writer in Residence
    Murree Museum Artist Residency (MMAR)
    Murree, Pakistan – August 2016
  • Fellow
    Campus Art Dubai, Core 3.0
    Dubai, UAE – Oct 2014 – Mar 2015


/ exhibition history


  • 2012 – ‘Conversations in Hyperreality’ – Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata, India
  • 2011 – ‘the work that will probably never end’ – Grey Noise Gallery, Lahore, Pakistan

two-person / group

  • 2019 – Office Run: Corners not Speakers – texts by Saira Ansari and Mihir Wairkar – Dubai
  • 2015 – Dreamscape Radio – Campus Art Dubai, Independent Projects, Dubai
  • 2013 – Text Embodied: Transformation of Text into an Experience of Art – Twelve Gates Arts, Philadelphia
  • 2013 – Lahore Letters – Hedah Gallery, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • 2012 – – Grey Noise, Dubai
  • 2011 – Step Across This Line: Contemporary Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan – Asia House, London
  • 2011 – MARKER, Projects Section – experimental art spaces – Art Dubai, Dubai
  • 2011 – Hear Me Roar: New Art from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran – Jamjar Gallery, Dubai
  • 2011 – Special Artists’ Project, India Art Summit 2011, Delhi
  • 2011 – MA (Hons.) Visual Art Degree show – Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts, Lahore
  • 2010 – Sanjh – Alhamra art gallery, Lahore
  • 2009 – Refreshed: young artist’s exhibition – Alhamra art gallery, Lahore
  • 2005 – Emerging Talent – VM Gallery, Karachi
  • 2005 – Encore – Nairang Gallery, Lahore
  • 2004 – Silencio, BFA Degree Show – National College of Arts, Lahore
  • 2004 – Drawing, curated by Usman Saeed – Rohtas Gallery, Lahore
  • 2003 – All Punjab Art exhibition – Alhamra art gallery, Lahore
  • 2003 – Anti-Globalisation Workshop for artists I – Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts, Lahore