‘Refusing to Be Still’ exhibition ‘shows vitality of Saudi art’

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Art works are shown at one of the venues of the "Refusing to Be Still" art exhibition in Jeddah. (AN photo)
Updated 01 March 2018
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‘Refusing to Be Still’ exhibition ‘shows vitality of Saudi art’

JEDDAH: A groundbreaking art exhibition will give visitors a unique chance to meet visiting artists through a series of workshops, organizers said.

More than 30 Saudi and international artists are featured in the exhibition, called 21,39, which opened on Feb. 7 under the title “Refusing to Be Still.”

The exhibition, organized annually by the Saudi Art Council, is in its fifth year. Artworks explore the old and the new, the permanent and the temporary, the emotional and the aesthetic.

The display also highlights the growing cultural cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Germany, with Berlin conceptual artist Ilona Kalnoky among the exhibitors. Her work features cubes of clay brought directly from Germany and finished through the ancient process of pit burning in Jeddah.

Eight Saudi artists recently met Kalnoky during a study tour of Germany in the lead-up to the exhibition.

The German consulate is one of the sponsors of the exhibition.

The German Consul General, Holger Ziegeler, said: “By bringing the most creative minds of different countries together, we see how quickly they understand each other and spur each other on. They benefit mutually from the values, experiences and dreams of their peers.”

Kalnoky said: “I am surprised by the vitality and curiosity of the artists and the vibrant art scene in Saudi Arabia. The exchange with the Saudi artists was an enriching experience.”

A visitor to the exhibition, Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi, told Arab News: “I am amazed at this year’s exhibits. I come here each year. I like the diversity of art here.”

Al-Ghamdi, a law student, said he had started a project to promote Saudi Arabia’s little-known artists by collecting their social media accounts and artworks and presenting them in a single Instagram account.

Saleh Al Shehri, a Saudi fine artist who visited the exhibit, said: “The way that the artists applied their ideas on reality here is breathtaking. The selection of artists in this year’s exhibition is excellent.”

“Refusing to Be Still” is taking place in locations across Jeddah, including Gold Moor mall, Serafi mall and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), and is open daily from 5-10 p.m. until May 5.


My Ramadan with Safi Enayat: Experiencing the Holy Month in Copenhagen

Updated 21 May 2018
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My Ramadan with Safi Enayat: Experiencing the Holy Month in Copenhagen

  • Safi Enayat came to Copenhagen as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001
  • This Ramadan, he’s hosting a pop-up iftar with chefs from Baker & Spice Dubai

COPENHAGEN: Safi Enayat came to Copenhagen as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001 and found a job washing dishes in a restaurant kitchen before working his way up to become head chef and a restaurant owner in his own right. His cooking is a reflection of the diverse cultural influences that have characterized his life, from the traditional Afghan dishes with a modern twist he cooks for friends to the Indian-inspired cuisine served in his restaurant chain dhaba.dk, as well as the international fare he has encountered in Europe. This Ramadan, he’s hosting a pop-up iftar with chefs from Baker & Spice Dubai which aims to attract a mixed crowd of Muslims and non-Muslims to break bread over delicious Arabic food.

Read on to experience Ramadan in the European city in his own words...

Everyday life goes on as normal during Ramadan in Copenhagen because the Muslim community here is not that big. In general, people congregate at the city’s larger mosques to pray and break the fast together. There are a few larger events that I look forward to, such as Iftar på Rådhuspladsen, when everyone gathers in City Hall Square and brings a dish to share with their family and friends. It’s an amazing feeling, sitting on the floor in front of this beautiful venue with people from all cultures — Danish, Afghan, Arabs… usually several hundred people attend. Here, you have the right to enjoy your religion as you want and while Danes might be curious to know why we fast, they are very accepting. Last year one of my Danish friends called during Ramadan to say he was fasting for the day to understand it better. I was touched. I think it showed a lot of respect for my religion, which is something I often find here.

Since coming here, I feel like Ramadan has become more visible, people are more aware of what is going on and more interested in why Muslims are fasting and why they do it for so long. It’s a friendly interest. With the long days at this time of the year, many Muslims in Denmark choose to take some of their summer holidays during Ramadan so they have less work and can enjoy the Holy Month.

We’ll be hosting a pop-up iftar called The Opposite Kitchen with Baker & Spice from June 2 to June 8, which is something new to the city. We’ll invite everyone from all cultures and religions to come and learn about the meaning of Ramadan. For me, the beautiful message behind Ramadan is that when you fast, you can see what it’s like for someone who is starving on the other side of the world and can’t put food on the table, and I think it’s important to understand that. I also think that food is an important way of bringing people together. It’s something we all share and enjoy. I found my way into the Danish community through food, it was an easy way to become a citizen of the city and a part of life here. I’ve been here for so many years that this is home for me now.