Kingdom of art dazzles at Athr Gallery

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Updated 08 May 2013
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Kingdom of art dazzles at Athr Gallery

The Young Saudi Artists (YSA) exhibition was initiated by Athr Gallery three years ago to serve as an incubation program for new artistic talents across the country to showcase emerging social attitudes in art. And in the same vein, each YSA term has no doubt progressed in bringing for the fresh names to the artist’s roster. But the important question remains whether the platform has been used in its full potential for those with a voice and an idea to share, if not sell.
A few artists must be credited for attempting to clearly delineate their social, national and cultural deliberations.
In a three-piece series titled “Tagged and Undocumented,” Huda Beydoun who had previously exhibited in YSA I, continued her signature feature-ridden “Mickey Mouse” bonce trend, represented in a series of three digital photographic prints, lending her subjects yet again, a sense of mystery, anonymity and generality.
Although the faceless caricature reminds me lightly of “Deadmau5’s” (progressive house musician) trademark insignia, the works have served as a seriously-intended tribute to the countless migrant “guest-workers” who have incessantly performed mundane grunt work, cleaned up the slough off the streets cared for children while busy mothers were away, or waited endlessly to sell a doll or two at the local toy store.
A reality far from its comic irony, Beydoun has addressed a social issue of relativity that speaks intimately to the generations of “foreign” citizens who have been in the Kingdom for decades, and whose merit although may have gone unrecognized has certainly not been dismissed.
“Borrowed Walls” by Noorah Kareem was a welcome gesture in addressing the rather notorious culture of unauthorized and indiscriminate graffiti spraying across walls around the city. Harsh and far from inspiring unless performed in an organized manner becoming of “artists with a cause,” such acts have long been an eye-sore in addition to serving as acts of vandalism of public spaces that most certainly must secure the concerned attention of city municipal authorities.
“Wasted Dreams” by Omama Al Sadiq resounded as a social lament much amusingly with a real stink on the culture of mere academic achievements which remain just so. Represented with a kitchen sink clogged by a wet and trashed mound of certificates, the installation raises two-fold questions. One of laundered certificates obtained through illegal means, a practice that has thankfully experienced a serious crack-down from the government lately.
The second point, to me, serves as an allegory to the current systems of education that issue mass titles and degrees without any relevance to true learning, questioning, understanding and hence a “real education.” The second part of the installation is an open refrigerator stocked with all manners of learning paraphernalia. A mocking analogy to the frozen educational tools of learning today, left open to thaw and rot, if not applied in the proper manner of instruction.
I can hear echoes of, “We don’t need no education.” Pink Floyd, anyone?
Ghada Al Rabea’s “Habeebaty” is a series of amorous illustrations created using waste candy and chocolate wrappers. Although the effort heavily appealed to me with its environmentally-friendly message of recycling waste into beautiful art, can someone also figure the twin references raised in whispering sweet nothings? Go figure.
A series of book pages enclosed in glass frames by Batool Al-Shamran are endearing pass over views for the lit-indulgent souls.
It was also a reminder of the dying print phenomenon, in reference to the declining reading culture and the dwindling print production, triumphed by the permeation of digital media. “Studies in Strange Souls,” allowed me to meditate on the installations a few seconds longer.
Rami Al-Qthami’s ready-made rotary telephone installation that keeps ringing at a pleasant interval was also a reminder that the old brings something new. When the time is right, you will hear your calling. And then, you just pick up the call. You got to go.
The exhibition Young Saudi Artists III is currently running at Athr Gallery.

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Where We Are Going Today: Fun Time Pizza

Updated 10 min 38 sec ago
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Where We Are Going Today: Fun Time Pizza

This chain of arcade and entertainment centers provides children and families with affordable gaming fun, combined with delicious pizza.
With multiple locations in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, Fun Time Pizza has for years been a popular destination where children can enjoy a fun-filled day of pizza and games.
In addition to a wide range of play centers, arcade machines and sporting challenges, it also offers clown and magic shows every week, making it a place of non-stop excitement and entertainment. There are special packages for group bookings, and it is a popular choice for birthday parties thanks to a dedicated children’s party section.
As for the food, as the name suggests the primary option is freshly baked pizza, but it also serves up burgers, chicken wings, fries and a selection of appetizers for guests to snack on. It also offers coffee and donuts for guests who might need a sugar or caffeine break to boost sagging energy levels.