JEDDAH: The natural world, climate change and environmental sustainability have been the main subject of this year’s edition of the 21,39 exhibition in Jeddah.
Many artists have submitted work that highlights and raises awareness about the changing state of the planet for the event, organized by the Saudi Art Council and supported by the Ministry of Culture.
Dutch artist Aljohara Jeje is one of those, whose projects talk about the ways human beings treat other living creatures on this planet.
Of the first installation, “Chilling Climates,” Aljohara said: “Two contemporary concerns are brought together: The change of our climate and the refugee crisis. (It is) an interactive art installation, inviting and encouraging (people) to reflect on the influence we have as human beings on all living matter on this planet.”
With the floor of the installation covered in dead leaves and flowers, spectators were invited to clear a path with their feet, revealing crime scene outlines of the bodies of toddlers underneath.
Though the crime outline could have been of any child, it is an exact outline of the body of Alan Kurdi, the toddler who drowned on Sept. 2, 2015, in the Mediterranean before his lifeless body was found on the beach near Bodrum, Turkey.
“The silhouettes are also a reference to the famous story of Ishmael, the firstborn of Abraham, who, according to holy books, was dying (of thirst) in the desert but saved by God. How do we treat our children? With reference to the cracking Earth: Why do we treat our Earth so badly? What legacy do we leave to our children?” she said.
She went on: “When realization strikes, what do we do? Do we step on it? Over or around it? How do we wish to be remembered? We might use it to clean up and start all over again … this demonstrates that we are able to change our paths.”
The seventh edition of 21,39 Jeddah Arts has attracted a wide range of Saudi, Arab and European artists. The three-month event began on Jan. 28 and will run until April 18 under the title, “I Love You, Urgently.”