Dana Awartani uses Indian craftsmanship to explore Arab poetry in Sharjah

‘Listen to My Words’ (2018) by Dana Awartani. (Photo courtesy: Maraya Art Center)
Updated 26 December 2018

Dana Awartani uses Indian craftsmanship to explore Arab poetry in Sharjah

  • Jeddah-based artist Dana Awartani is showcasing her work in an exhibition called “The Silence Between Us”
  • Set to run until Feb. 18 at the Maraya Art Center in Sharjah

DUBAI: Set to run until Feb. 18 on the sidelines of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, Jeddah-based artist Dana Awartani is showcasing her work in an exhibition called “The Silence Between Us” at the Maraya Art Center in the emirate.

“The Silence Between Us” brings together pieces from the artist’s repertoire and is a prime example of her unique use of layering. Poetry and light are key elements in her work and the exhibition in Sharjah — her first in the Middle East, according to the gallery — is evidence of that.

Curated by Laura Metzler, the exhibition is laid out in a cyclical pattern and opens and closes with Awartani’s recent installation, “Listen to My Words” (2018), which features seven screens of hand embroidered silk panels inspired by the “Jali” screen — an architectural form common in traditional buildings in the Indian Subcontinent that allows airflow in buildings, but prevents onlookers from being able to gaze in.

Each screen is associated with a line of poetry from female poets of the Arab world throughout history. Other pieces featured in the exhibition include “Love is my Law, Love is my Faith” (2016), which was inspired by the love poems of Andalusian Muslim scholar Ibn Arabi and a fascinating drawing from her “Caliphates” series that shows the evolution of the tradition of illumination throughout the history of the art.

Awartani, who was educated at London’s Central Saint Martins, lives and works in Jeddah and draws inspiration from Indian textile, woodwork and glasswork production processes

In addition to the artist’s works on show, new pieces were created in collaboration with craftsmen in India over a four-month period leading up to the show. The piece “To See and Not Be Seen” (2018) — an embroidered-textile piece that expands on her interest in female poets in the Arab world — is one of those.

Another installation piece by the artist, “All (heavenly bodies) swim along, each in its orbit’” (2016), is on show at the Sharjah Art Museum and is an important part of the wider Islamic arts festival as it was inspired by a Qur’anic verse.

Screen Scene: What to watch at home this week

What to watch on Netflix this week. (Shutterstock)
Updated 15 January 2019

Screen Scene: What to watch at home this week

DUBAI: If you plan on staying in this week, here is what to watch.
The Last Laugh
Starring Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Andie MacDowell
Where Netflix
Retired talent manager Al Hart is reunited with his first client, Buddy Green, at a retirement community. Green is a stand-up who quit showbiz decades ago, but Hart persuades him to escape the community and hit the road for one last cross-country comedy tour.

Friends From College
Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage
Where Netflix
Second season of the comedy series about a group of friends from Harvard. As Max’s wedding approaches, the friends have to come together and face the issues raised by season one’s revelation about an affair between two of the group.

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft
Where Netflix
A darker, live-action take on DC’s “Teen Titans” franchise. Batman’s former sidekick Dick Grayson and Rachel Roth encounter other disillusioned young heroes, including Beast Boy and Starfire, and form their own crimefighting group.

Carmen Sandiego
Starring Gina Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard
Where Netflix, from Jan.18
Animated series based on the fictional globe-trotting master criminal regarded as a villain by international law enforcement agencies. But her actions are more like those of a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing from evil corporations and giving back to victims

Starring: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie
Where: Netfix, from Jan. 18
A young scientist — one of the last survivors on earth — tries to find a way for mankind to survive without leaving their home planet. As the departure of the last shuttle approaches, her resolve is tested.