Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s ‘Magnetism’ to go under the hammer in COVID-19 auction

 Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s ‘Magnetism’ to go under the hammer in COVID-19 auction
Magnetism by Ahmed Mater will be the first artwork to be auctioned in November 2020. Supplied
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Updated 07 October 2020

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s ‘Magnetism’ to go under the hammer in COVID-19 auction

 Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s ‘Magnetism’ to go under the hammer in COVID-19 auction

AMSTERDAM: Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s acclaimed work “Magnetism” will be the first item under the hammer in The Future is Unwritten’s Healing Arts Auction series, beginning next month. The series is a joint project between Christie’s, the WHO Foundation and UN75 which, according to a press release, “aims to increase awareness around a global path to recovery (from the COVID-19 pandemic) and raise critical funds to mobilize artists and health professionals in support of communities most vulnerable, at-risk and with the weakest health systems to act effectively in response to the pandemic.” All proceeds will go to the WHO Foundation and The Future is Unwritten’s Artist Response Fund, which supports artist-led projects “that directly facilitate community healing and healthcare messaging in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

Mater’s work is a cuboid magnet that resembles the Kaaba in Makkah — considered the most sacred place on earth by Muslims. Thousands of particles of iron surround the magnet. The press release describes “Magnetism” as “one of the 21st Century’s most iconic cultural images from the Islamic world,” adding that it “fuses art, science and the concept of identity and religion.”

“Mater’s counterpoint of square and circle, whirl and cube, of black and white, light and dark, places the primal elements of form and tone in dynamic equipoise. The overall aim of the artist is simple, but enchantingly alluring,” the release states.

“I am very connected, spiritually, to Makkah,” Mater told Arab News earlier this year. “I grew up in this community (where we) saw all the people going (on Hajj) and moving around the Kaaba. I remember my parents telling me, ‘When you go there you will feel like you are being pulled by a magnet.’ This is a big memory from my childhood.” It was this memory that inspired “Magnetism,” which is expected to raise up to $155,000 at next month’s auction.

‘Monster Hunter’ is ‘the right movie at the right time,’ says director

‘Monster Hunter’ brings the iconic Japanese video game to the big screen. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2020

‘Monster Hunter’ is ‘the right movie at the right time,’ says director

‘Monster Hunter’ is ‘the right movie at the right time,’ says director

DUBAI: Milla Jovovich, the action star and one-time highest-paid model in the world, was sitting in her dining room when her husband, director Paul W.S. Anderson, dropped a script on the table. It was the latest draft of “Monster Hunter,” a passion project he had rewritten numerous times over a 10-year period, struggling to bring the iconic Japanese video-game series to life.

“Paul sat down and said, ‘I finished the latest script. I would love for you to read it and tell me what you think.’ Even though I had already read about four different versions, I said, ‘OK, great.’ And he’s like, ‘I’m just warning you. I wrote this for you,’” Jovovich told Arab News.

“I said, are you joking? We just finished ‘Resident Evil,’ you’re going to have me going from killing zombies to killing monsters? You have to be kidding me. People are not going to buy it.”

Jovovich and Anderson have always had a painfully honest relationship, but it seems to work for them. The two met on the set of “Resident Evil,” and since then have made eight films and had two children together, marrying in 2009.

“It’s always in my best interest to be honest,” said Jovovich. “I want him to do his best, and if I can help that, the last thing that I want to do is not say what I really feel.”

“It’s a great relationship. It’s something I really value. Milla gives great script notes,” said Anderson.

Despite her rather pointed note, Anderson was convinced the movie wouldn’t work without her.

“He said, ‘I really strongly believe that you’re the best person to do this. Read the script before you decide.’ And, of course, he knew exactly what I love, which is to play a soldier, but I was definitely not sure about the whole thing,” said Jovovich.

The film tells the story of a soldier named Artemis, played by Jovovich, who is transported into another dimension with her squadron, and has to survive in a world populated by larger-than-life creatures and find her way back home.

In order to avoid shooting everything against a green screen — now the norm for Hollywood blockbusters — Anderson took his wife and the rest of the cast and crew, including action star Tony Jaa, to the Western Cape of South Africa to film in the blistering sun.

 “Milla ended up with sunburn on the whites of her eyeballs, because her character can’t wear sunglasses — the same for Tony Jaa. It was very physically challenging, which was a new experience for me,” says Anderson.

“Oh, poor you, with your hat and your sunglasses, and your nice white billowing top,” Jovovich says to her husband.

“I was talking on your behalf,” says Anderson.

Even Jaa, who is known for his death-defying stunts, struggled to adjust to the desert climate.

“The white sand was really beautiful, but the temperature was around 45 degrees. It was really hot. I just ran, and we would do around 20 takes. I was exhausted, but I kept going because this is really important. This is a big movie,” he said.

Anderson wanted the film to come out during 2020, feeling that a divided and wounded world needed some escapism, as well as a hopeful message.

“It’s the same message the game has. It’s important for people from different cultures, from different worlds, to learn how to cooperate for the greater good. It’s becoming a very divisive, insular world.

“I wanted to have a movie where cooperation and friendship are the important things. It is the right movie at the right time,” said Anderson.