Moath Alofi opens doors to Madinah’s past

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Photos that show Madinah’s past.
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Updated 12 August 2016
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Moath Alofi opens doors to Madinah’s past

The interpretation of art is always different from one viewer to the other, some might find it interesting, beautiful, ugly, or controversial and others simply wouldn’t care for it. It doesn’t really matter who thinks what about any form of art, as long as there is a sense of respect toward the work and the artist’s vision. Moath Alofi’s participation and contribution to the art scene in the Kingdom came by chance a couple of years ago as a photographer exploring his city of Madinah. The city is his muse, his inspiration and his platform; it’s a city with so much history that has a path to progression through major construction projects with a goal to expand more and accommodate more visitors and residents. As with many cities, Madinah has its own charm, other than it being the city of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which adds to the charm. Moath is an integrated member of its society doing his part in displaying magnificent images to the world outside the city walls.
His latest project being showcased at the Athr Art Gallery in Jeddah holds the name of “Doors of Barlik”, a project named after a known incident in the city’s historic path to what it is today. The city is at an ongoing stage of demolishing and removing housing units within the holy mosque’s vicinity for the purpose of expansion. Numbers are spray painted on more than 12,000 housing units across the city marking them for demolition. Moath’s exploratory mission of the city documented these homes and found an underlying message through them, he found beauty in these destroyed homes.
“I work in construction and I see structures after massive demolition projects built up from scratch all the time. There is a silent beauty in anticipation of the demolition, I saw that through remnants left over from these homes. The doors to these houses are like windows to the life of the residents of these homes, they tell of their story and background. Each door was different from one another and instead of having them thrown in a dump somewhere after auctions, I bought them, packed them up in my pickup truck and looked at them from an outsider’s point of view, they told of stories,” said Moath.
Doors of Barlik are a representation of social and urban transformation currently undergoing in the holy city. Each door held a story as the photographer explained, there are indentations, graffiti, love notes, prayers and more. The types of doors differ from one another as well, you’ll find the expensive and cheap, you’ll find the simple and the intricately detailed and you’ll find the colorful and the plain. The houses of which these were built were not of concrete and cement like it is now, these houses are old, historic, some even dating back to more than a hundred years, and the people used materials found from their surroundings such as rocks and mud. Upon entering the gallery, visitors can see the doors are placed in random but you’ll find one particularly interesting frame of a door, with the door behind it a few meters away that is set in a way to create the illusion that you’re walking through one door and through another. This one detail shows that there is more to it than just simply doors, there’s a sense of nostalgia that is felt.
“I’ve taken hundreds of pictures using my phone or camera as a means of documenting, but there is another deeper meaning when you actually obtain a piece of something that had history. I didn’t choose to document this by chance, my love for Madinah runs deep and in the years I was in Australia studying, I sensed a vast change from when I first left to when I returned. It is upsetting to see some of the old neighborhoods flattened and its residents uprooted to other areas in the city, but it’s evolution and it’s bound to happen regardless due of the city’s important place in the Islamic world, it needs to accommodate a larger number of visitors but at the price of historical neighborhoods. The generations before us know the history of these neighborhoods, its families and their stories. Through my project with “Doors of Barlik” I am documenting a piece of history and telling its story for not only my generation but also for the next, you can’t erase art,” said Moath.
That couldn’t be any more true, you can’t erase art. Not only does “Doors of Barlik” showcase doors, but also photographs by Moath of some of the houses before demolition, some still have personal remnants still hung such as a framed prayer or hand painted murals of the Haramain, it’s all too personal but truly a vision to behold and admire. We live in a fast evolving world, it’s no wonder not many want to learn about the past, we’re trying to keep up with the now. “Doors of Barlik” is showcased at Athr Art Gallery until Sept. 8, 2016.


Bong d’Or: Korean director wins Cannes’ top prize

Updated 25 May 2019
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Bong d’Or: Korean director wins Cannes’ top prize

  • French-Senegalese director Mati Diop’s “Atlantics" wins festival’s second place award, the Grand Prize
  • Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne shared the best director for “Young Ahmed”

CANNES, France: South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s social satire “Parasite,” about a poor family of hustlers who find jobs with a wealthy family, won the Cannes Film Festival’s top award, the Palme d’Or, on Saturday.
The win for “Parasite” marks the first Korean film to ever win the Palme. In the festival’s closing ceremony, jury president Alejandro Inarritu said the choice had been “unanimous” for the nine-person jury.
The genre-mixing film had been celebrated as arguably the most critically acclaimed film at Cannes this year and the best yet from the 49-year-old director of “Snowpiercer” and “Okja.”
It was the second straight Palme victory for an Asian director. Last year, the award went to Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters.”
Two years ago, Bong was in Cannes’ competition with “Okja,” a movie distributed in North America by Netflix. After it and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” — another Netflix release — premiered in Cannes, the festival ruled that all films in competition needed French theatrical distribution. Netflix has since withdrawn from the festival on the French Riveira.
The festival’s second place award, the Grand Prize, went to French-Senegalese director Mati Diop’s “Atlantics.” Diop was the first black female director in competition at Cannes.
Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne shared the best director for “Young Ahmed.”
Best actor went to Antonio Banderas for Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory,” while best actress was won by British actress Emily Beecham for “Little Joe.”
Although few quibbled with the choice of Bong, some had expected Cannes to make history by giving the Palme to a female filmmaker for just the second time.
Celine Sciamma’s period romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was the Palme pick for many critics this year, but it ended up with best screenplay.
In the festival’s 72-year history, only Jane Champion has won the prize in 1993, and she tied with Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine.”