Jeddah gallery hosts first Saudi edition of ‘Slidefest’ event

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Athr Gallery hosted the first Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest on Thursday night. (AN photo/ Huda Bashatah)
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Athr Gallery hosted the first Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest on Thursday night. (AN photo/ Huda Bashatah)
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Athr Gallery hosted the first Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest on Thursday night. (AN photo/ Huda Bashatah)
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Athr Gallery hosted the first Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest on Thursday night. (AN photo/ Huda Bashatah)
Updated 02 November 2018

Jeddah gallery hosts first Saudi edition of ‘Slidefest’ event

JEDDAH: Athr Gallery hosted the first Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest on Thursday night. The highly popular art slideshow format took place in the city of Jeddah, and saw inspirational Saudi and regional artists and photographers display their latest creative work through intimate, personal, and powerful artistic narratives.
A contemporary art project space and gallery, Athr offers a platform for artistic dialogue between aspiring artists and their societies. They offer multiple leveled platforms for creative experimentation that includes a visual arts workshop, as well as a terrace for outdoor presentations. Thursday night’s GPP Slidefest featured Saudi artists and photographers such as Tasneem Alsultan, Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al-Lail, Moath Alofi and Saad Tahaitah, as well as UAE photographer Ammar Al Attar.
The event was held in partnership with Gulf Photo Plus (GPP), and a part of Photography Jameel’s Autumn program. GPP is a renowned photographic organization based in Dubai, while Photography Jameel emphasizes on year-round learning and community development through the production of photography workshops, and art events. GPP Managing Director Lola Boatwright, who hosted Thursday night’s event, spoke exclusively to Arab News, and shared some of the fundamentals that GPP offer to aspiring and established photographers in the region, as well as her optimistic outlook on the impact GPP will have in the Kingdom.
“Through all of our activities we aim to raise the level of visual literacy among the photography community. We are a resource for photographers in Dubai as well as around the Gulf and abroad through our education, fine art printing, our galleries, and events such as Slidefest. In terms of our relationship with Saudi Arabia, this is quite an exciting time as this is the first time we are holding an event in Jeddah. There is a need for creative expression – an outlet, and I think photography is really an attractive way for someone to start exploring how to express themselves. So, I’m very much invested in having Gulf Photo Plus be more active in Saudi Arabia,” she stated.
The first artist highlighted at GPP Slidefest was Tasneem Alsultan. A Saudi-American photographer, her work is particularly known for highlighting gender and social issues within Saudi Arabia. She has covered local art stories in Saudi Arabia for both Vanity Fair Italy and Vogue Italia, and her photography has been featured in publications such as the New York Times Lens Blog. Tasneem’s art presentation Thursday night was an unconventionally honest wedding themed slideshow. Having photographed more than 120 weddings worldwide, she specializes in capturing what could only be described as the imperfectly perfect candid shots. In recent years, she has been selected by the British Journal of Photography as one of the 16 emerging photographers to watch.
Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al-Lail is a Saudi-British artist based in the United Kingdom. She is the founder and director of Variant Space, an art collective that facilitates a space for Muslim women to creatively express their experiences. “The most important reason why I started it was because I wanted an honest perspective of different Muslim females. Who they are, their artwork, and their different stories and journeys all while identifying as a Muslim female — which I think is important because culture and society is different for each person, but yet being Muslim females, they feel pride in that identity,” she said.
Nasreen’s photographic artwork delves into the connection between self-identity, individual experiences, and the physical space in which these conflicts exist. Her work incorporates both a subjective and objective point of view that tells complex stories of self-identity, as well as often subtly intertwining ideas of culture, gender, religion, and politics. Her artwork Thursday evening was titled “Beyond the Veil” and tackled the question, “Who am I and what can I become” Her artwork urged viewers to reflect on how multi-faceted and fluid the concept of identity can be, and how the media can influence and reinforce stereotypes on the veil. Her art offered an honest representation of veiled women, and the cultural strength it represents.
“For me it was about presenting a different side to the story, rather than the continuous side that we hear from the media about Saudi women being different, and assuming our culture is a certain way. For me, I feel more comfortable in Saudi than the UK in general, just in terms of practicing the way I am, and people looking at me without having prejudgments on how I would be. So that was the main reason why ‘Beyond the Veil’ was created, because from a western perspective, looking at veiled women is still very limited and very narrow in a sense. We see that lately in adverts and how images of veiled women are being represented; It really undermines other women who are like me and their narratives. It’s not a representation of the wider community,” she remarked.
Saudi artist Saad Tahaitah presented a short film called “A white wave of pilgrims” that offered a deeply beautiful and intimate illustration on the journey of Hajj. The film contained a contrast of authentic sounds with imposing instrumentals that creatively captured the monumental personal journey of Hajj. The images of fully diversified pilgrims, reflected the contrast of how one can be completely disconnected with 21st century reality, while at the same time be deeply connected in a religious and spiritual sense.
The final presenter of the evening was UAE photographer Ammar Al Attar. His slideshow was titled “Reverse Moments”, which documented moments in the past that were undocumented in their inception date. Ammar visited more than 30 photo studios in the UAE where he would collect hours of video recordings, along with thousands of photo negatives. These images captured the UAE and its people in the earliest of times, uncovering the messages and tracing the stories that lay behind these undated photos.
With the aim of nurturing the grassroots movement in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region, programs and events such as GPP Slidefest are providing platforms and opportunities for local and regional artists and photographers to share their personal stories and experiences through their creative artwork. This artistic structure of cultural exchange has been a part of a wider commitment from establishments such as Athr Gallery, Gulf Photo Plus, and Photography Jameel to promote cultural dialogue within Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 16 January 2019

Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

  • Cabinet OKs air transport pact with Indonesia

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet met to discuss a series of national and global developments on Tuesday, in a session chaired by King Salman.

At the forefront of the agenda was the escalation in tensions between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border, and the continuing encroachment on Palestinian land by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The Cabinet responded by demanding that the UN Security Council intervene. King Salman also relayed to ministers the outcome of his talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which covered many regional issues.

The minister of media, Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabanah, announced that after reviewing proposals from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a decision from the Shoura Council, a memorandum of understanding between the government and the Republic of Korea on granting visit visas had been agreed upon.

The Cabinet approved the amendment of the air agreement on regular air transport between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

The Cabinet, meanwhile, praised the progress of the 2025 Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Program, aimed at enhancing farming techniques by promoting sustainable water and renewable energy sources.

They also discussed the framework in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020 for building a sustainable renewable energy sector, reiterating aims to lead global renewable energy developments over the next decade, and create projects such as the wind-powered plant at Dumat Al-Jandal, as part of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative.

In a statement, though, Al-Shabanah said: “The Cabinet discussed the announcement made by the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources about the Kingdom’s oil and gas reserves, which highlighted the importance of Saudi Arabia as a secure source of oil supplies in the long term.”

He added, in closing, the Cabinet’s praise for the efforts of Saudi security forces in the tracking and arrest of seven people in Qatif, which foiled a planned terrorist attack.