‘Rome chose me,’ says Saudi artist on breakthrough Italian exhibition

‘Rome chose me,’ says Saudi artist on breakthrough Italian exhibition
The 4th Century Arch of Janus (L) and the Palazzo Rhinoceros (R), the new building of the Alda Fendi-Esperimenti Foundation dedicated to arts, are pictured. (File/AFP) (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 October 2020

‘Rome chose me,’ says Saudi artist on breakthrough Italian exhibition

‘Rome chose me,’ says Saudi artist on breakthrough Italian exhibition
  • “Rome chose me and not vice versa. This idea wants to be a bridge between cultures,” Fahad told Arab News
  • He could not be in Rome for the opening of the exhibition, which is open to visitors until Dec. 10

ROME: Saudi artist Sultan bin Fahad has chosen Rhinoceros, an art gallery in Rome’s historic heart, for his first solo show.
The exhibition, “Frequency,” is staged in a 15th-century building recently renovated by French architect Jean Nouvel, and includes six installations featuring light, incense, shadows, music and sounds. Each piece describes a spiritual journey to modernity through many cultures, but one that is firmly linked to Islam.
“Rome chose me and not vice versa. This idea wants to be a bridge between cultures,” Fahad told Arab News from Los Angeles, where he lives. He could not be in Rome for the opening of the exhibition, which is open to visitors until Dec. 10.
“Each of my creations is specific. I wanted to tell a concept that was understood and expressed by the surrounding place,” the artist said. Over the years he collected precious antique pieces from Makkah and Madinah which he found all over the world, including some metallic pieces which had gone missing in 1979. He shot videos and recorded sounds, and used everything in the artwork that describes what he sees as the human journey toward a sacred temple of feelings.
The exhibition includes “Been There,” a piece with four ancient stones inscribed in Arabic interacting with a large plate of luminescent glass. Then comes “If Stone Could Speak,” with white marble works from Makkah. A video is projected showing men and women gathered in prayer.
Another work, “Possession,” shows an image of the hands of men and women trying to get closer to an elusive God, trying to touch the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“I filmed those people and I was interested to understand why they were doing those gestures. They were trying to reach the divine. I thought it was moving,” Fahad said.
“The Verse of The Throne” contains a projection of a verse from the Holy Qur’an in front of six bowls, with water serving as an element of purification. Then comes “The White Noise,” represented in two immersive rooms, associated by the artist with the prayers of Makkah pilgrims.
Fahad said the exhibition looks to “involve all the senses to create a real experience, going beyond a visual experience for the visitor.”
In this sense, his works represent the place where anthropological concepts were born and became infused by Greek, Latin and Eastern cultures.
In fact, in the Arabian Gulf, humans once measured their existence through the loss of their relatives, creating a cult of the dead, which is reflected in Fahad’s work.
The artist is waiting to see what the future has in store. “I have no plans so far. I am so happy that I could produce something in 2020 due the the difficult time the entire world is experiencing. Let us hope that the situation will evolve for the better,” he said.


‘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.