Saudi artist selected for international digital residency

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Alaa Tarabzouni
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Eilidh Kennedy McLean
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Updated 02 August 2020

Saudi artist selected for international digital residency

  • Tarabzouni, who is based in Riyadh, specializes in urbanity and the built environment, with her work influenced by her academic background and training in architecture

JEDDAH: A Saudi Arabian artist has been selected to take part in a prestigious international digital arts residency this month.

Alaa Tarabzouni, 30, will participate in Making Marks: Connect ME Digital Residency – a joint initiative by the British Council and the Arab British Centre that aims to connect the Gulf and the UK during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The program pairs artists based in the UK with artists in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to create collaborative work that considers how digital tools can encourage connectivity across borders.

Throughout August, Tarabzouni will be paired with Northern Ireland artist Ellie Niblock, 18, and together they will virtually develop new connections.

They will take part in online workshops and critique sessions and will have access to visiting artists and mentors over the four weeks.

Tarabzouni, who is based in Riyadh, specializes in urbanity and the built environment, with her work influenced by her academic background and training in architecture.

“Being a part of the Making Marks digital residency is so exciting. The residency comes at a time when it isn’t purely reactive to the physical limitations brought about by the pandemic. Rather, the format for the residency is extremely thoughtful and fits so well with the conscious use of technology to transcend borders and allow for cultural exchange,” she said.

She added: “My practice is not digitally driven, but is very much in relation to context and places/place making.”

Talking about her artistic roots, Tarabzouni said that she has always been interested in arts and culture. “I got the chance to explore in multiple disciplines, especially while I was pursuing my master’s degree at Pratt Institute in New York, which is an amazing liberal arts school with great facilities for experimentation.”

She said that she often thinks of context in its literal and abstract meanings as the main thread in the body of work.

The artist said that she was delighted to be selected and even more excited to work with Ellie Niblock.

“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to challenge myself and also to be paired with a UK-based artist. It allows for us both to expand our horizons and to explore different mediums in our collaboration.

“I think that the format of the residency is extremely compelling and the size is appropriate because it is a pilot residency program,” she said.

The distance between the two countries is reduced by different means as the pair will meet with a mentor every week and use many online tools to keep in touch, such as video calls, text messages, and Instagram.

“We also have used physical models to stay connected. I recently sent Ellie a package that contains found objects from Saudi Arabia that will be incorporated into the piece of work we are developing together,” said Tarabzouni.

Her advice to young, aspiring artists is “be daring and experiment with different things, but truly the most important thing is to be collaborative and humble.

Eilidh Kennedy McLean, director at the British Council in Saudi Arabia, said: “It is really valuable to have Saudi artists engage with those in the UK and have the opportunity to work together on innovative projects. I am hopeful that this initiative will further strengthen ties between the countries of the Gulf and the UK, and I look forward to seeing the end result.”

Tarabzouni is one of two artists to be selected from the Gulf for this first Connect Me Residency call. She is joined by Omani artist, Rawan AlMahrouqi, who is paired up with Liverpudlian artist Alexis Maxwell. There will be another call for artists in the Gulf later in the year.

Trained as an architect, Tarabzouni has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture from Newcastle University in England.

Her most recent work, Bait Al-Wurud, was showcased at Durational Portrait at Athr Gallery in Jeddah and The Quest for Our Next Concern in Riyadh. It was a meditation on longing manifested in the recontextualization of architectural elements to the gallery space.

She has also shown her work AL-SOM at Public/Private, the 2019 summer show of 21,39 in Jeddah, which considered expropriation and explored the nuanced effects of urban sprawl on public welfare.

In 2019, alongside Afia Bin Taleb, she co-curated the group show POACHED, a progressive exhibition of emerging artists alongside established practitioners, many of whom were presented for the first time in the Saudi capital.

 


Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.