Tonga begins cleanup while Fiji prepares for Cyclone Gita

This image made from a video, shows parliament house damaged by Cyclone Gita in Nuku'alofa, Tonga on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 13 February 2018

Tonga begins cleanup while Fiji prepares for Cyclone Gita

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: Tonga began cleaning up Tuesday after a cyclone hit overnight, while some people in the nearby Pacific nation of Fiji began preparing for the storm to hit them.
Cyclone Gita destroyed homes and churches in Tonga and caused widespread power outages after it tore through the island nation just south of the capital, Nuku’alofa. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths.
The cyclone was packing winds of over 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) when it made landfall. The nation has declared a state of emergency.
The cyclone was continuing to intensify and was predicted to hit some southern Fiji islands Tuesday night. Experts predict the cyclone will miss Fiji’s major population centers, including the capital, Suva.
About 2,500 people living on two of Fiji’s islands were at risk, the nation’s National Disaster Management Office told Radio New Zealand. Director Anare Leweniqila said emergency supplies of food and water were being gathered and urged elderly and disabled people to begin moving into evacuation centers.
The storm has strengthened since hitting Samoa and American Samoa last week, where it caused damage to buildings, widespread power outages and flooding.
President Donald Trump on Sunday declared an emergency in American Samoa, a US territory. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to help the 50,000 residents recover.
Chris Brandolino, a scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said flooding and coastal inundation would likely cause as many problems in Tonga as the damage from the winds.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government was on standby and ready to help Tonga, which is home to about 105,000 people.
On Monday before the storm hit, publisher Pesi Fonua said people were busy nailing boards and roofing iron to their homes to try to limit the damage from coconuts, trees and other debris.


Young artists take center stage in Saudi exhibition

It is the 6th edition of Athr Gallery’s ‘In The Midst Of It All.’ (Supplied)
Updated 11 min 16 sec ago

Young artists take center stage in Saudi exhibition

  • Highlights from Athr Gallery’s ‘In The Midst Of It All,’ the sixth edition of its exhibition dedicated to showcasing young talent in the Kingdom

 

‘Emotional Metamorphosis’

Aisha Islam

This year’s Young Saudi Artist showcase at Athr Gallery — which runs until December 31 — features 22 artists based in the Kingdom (selected from over 200 applicants) tackling the theme of social change in the country and Saudi identity. Curator Zahra Dar Bundakji says the gallery called on artists to answer the question: “Who are you, in the midst of it all?”

Al-Dahran-based artist Aisha Islam explored connections between identity and wellbeing in her work — a series of x-rays belonging to her late mother onto which Islam has ‘painted’ patterns in henna. “My mother loved henna, it was very ceremonial for her and made her really happy,” Islam told Arab News at the exhibition launch. “Working on this series was my mourning process — accepting the loss and turning something sad into something happier.”

‘The Capable Machine’

Rajaa Al-Hajj

Al-Hajj is a Sanaa-born sculptor and painter whose work, according to the exhibition brochure, “explores art movements such as surrealism and cubism” and “observes striking resemblances between biology and machinery” while “giving body and form to the intangible elements of existence.”

The striking ceramic sculpture she created for “In The Midst Of It All” is an attempt by the artist to examine the impact that “artificial constructs” including borders and power can have on regular people’s ability to proceed with their daily lives. “She redefines authority as merely a position,” the brochure says. “One that can be changed at any given time.”

‘Architecture Light’ series

Feras Nour

The Jeddah-born photographer was an architecture student and that passion has become his main source of inspiration for his work, and the lens through which he scrutinizes social and cultural issues. “Many of his works started to explore subjects of culturalism, displacement and identity,” the brochure states.

The photographs selected for “In The Midst Of It All,” including this one — “Emergence” — focus on the presence of light and how it can alter people’s environment and perception. “Light is able to transform and awaken a building, an object or a material … and bring it to life by giving emotional depth and character regardless of the intensity of the light source,” the artist’s statement says. “It is an ever-changing and moving presence, a reflection of us.”

‘Nobody Asked For Your Opinion’

Hana Kanee

Kanee is a painter and mixed-media artist born in Jeddah whose landscapes and portraits focus on everyday life in the Kingdom, often depicting the clash between modernization and heritage. “Capturing conflict is a recurrent subject for Kanee, be it through depictions of traditional landscapes in Abha or the changes in the region’s urbanization, the relationships between millennials and the generations preceding them, or the struggle to find balance of identity,” the exhibition brochure says.

The three paintings shown here depict “eye rolls and cringes” and are a commentary on “our being receptors of information, and the lack of control over it by way of various intruding forms of media.”

‘Chanting’ (Performance and video installation)

Ftoon Al-Thaedi

Al-Thaedi, a Riyadh-born “cultural mediator and multidisciplinary artist” contributed a video installation and performance piece to the exhibition. “Chanting” aims to “bridge cultural and generational gaps and shift views, as well as break stereotypes about Saudi youth.”

In her performance, the artist created various forms of henna — leaves, bright-green powder, and the brown or black pastes — and smeared them over herself, using natural material “to create layers of (a) new and redefined identity that sits in between the past and the present.”

‘From Within’

Nasser Al-Shemimry

Al-Shemimry is a Jeddah-based sound artist also known as Desertfish. “He creates lush, sonic, and immersive soundscapes” and “focuses on topics such as the realm of human awareness of time, and aims to create a dialogue about the self in relation to the space it occupies.”

For “In The Midst Of It All,” Al-Shemimry created an audio-visual installation that uses infrared sensors to track viewers’ motion so that when they enter the room, a projection is cast on the wall. The work “highlights our spatial awareness,” according to the exhibition brochure.

‘Fake Persian Carpet’

Ibrahim Romman

The Jeddah-born artist and graphic designer relies heavily on research for his artworks, often using found material to create them. “He explores Arab cultural identity” and “questions the influences between East and West.”

In “Fake Persian Carpet,” Romman used imagery from the daily life of his grandmother, replacing her imported carpets with “a bespoke carpet of his own making.” The work was influenced by Romman’s studies on “Arab aesthetics and impressions of opulence, success and ‘culture,’” with particular focus on “notions of Westernized beauty and style standards, as appropriated by Arabs through travel and as diasporas.”

While all the elements in the work are taken from his grandmother’s life and home in Saudi Arabia — patterns from her furniture, the tiles that create the border — all the objects in her home, the artist realizes, are imported. “Which begs the question: What is Saudi aesthetic identity, and where does it come from?”