Saudi artist Mohannad Shono’s Argentina show explores meaning and storytelling 

Saudi artist Mohannad Shono’s Argentina show explores meaning and storytelling 
“The Silent Press,” 2019. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 September 2021

Saudi artist Mohannad Shono’s Argentina show explores meaning and storytelling 

Saudi artist Mohannad Shono’s Argentina show explores meaning and storytelling 

DUBAI: A large planet-like circular form dappled with what appear to be craters and a few black dots changes constantly in front of the viewer’s eyes.

This is “The Fifth Sun,” a textile mural projection with sound created in 2017 by Saudi artist Mohannad Shono. According to the artist, it explores self-fulfilling prophecies — and “self-inflicted wounds” — regarding destruction and rebirth. It is one of the works that Shono — one of Saudi Arabia’s most promising contemporary artists — is showing at BIENALSUR (the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South) in Buenos Aires, through the Saudi Ministry of Culture. 

The Riyadh-born artist’s trajectory is as inspiring as it is unconventional. He started creating his own comic books as a child — a sideline he kept up even when studying architecture in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Eventually, he decided to dedicate himself to his art on a full-time basis, and proceeded to publish one of Saudi Arabia’s first comic books through a small independent publishing house.




The Riyadh-born artist’s trajectory is as inspiring as it is unconventional. (Supplied)

He left the Kingdom in 2004 to pursue a career in advertising in Dubai and Sydney, but kept working on his art on the side. When he returned to Riyadh in 2015, he found the country greatly changed and began participating in underground art exhibitions, establishing himself as a rising name in the local Saudi art movement. 

His work has since been exhibited at home and abroad (including South Korea and Germany) and he has participated in artist residencies in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. 

At the crux of Shono’s conceptual art that he makes from a variety of media, including works on paper, film, and installation, is an inquiry into human understanding. His works — while not representative of the human form or the outside world — are loaded with suggestion and emotion. They are created, Shono says, from “an imagined state of being, one devoid of a particular time and place,” which, he says, ultimately frees him from his own sense of displacement, stemming from his upbringing as a Syrian in Saudi Arabia.




“Our Inheritance of Meaning,” 2019. (Supplied)

Shono is exhibiting five other works at BIENALSUR: “The Silent Press” (2019), “The Name of All Things” (2019), “The Reading Ring” (2019), “Our Inheritance of Meaning” (2019), and a new ink-on-paper work called “Stolen Words.”

The majority of these were also displayed in the artist’s solo exhibition “The Silence is Still Talking” at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery. 

“These works were exploring our relationship with the nature of words and their meaning,” Shono says. “They take us through a journey of the hard work needed to reform the word. We begin by grinding down the ‘hardened word,’ by which I mean those things that we are trying to break apart and re-understand — or break apart until they lose their meaning — to (create) new words with new meanings and maybe open up solutions that are desperately needed.” 




“The Name of All Things,” 2019. (Supplied)

“The Names of All Things” is a good example of what Shono is trying to achieve. It is an installation consisting of dust made from words written in charcoal that have been ground down. The dust lies on a vibrating table so that it is shaken across the canvas, the shapes it makes constantly being reformed into “limitless arrangements.” 

“From the markings left behind from this process, new meanings to these old words are allowed to emerge,” explained Shono. “These are symbols that can potentially hold and embody new words and new meanings. While they are still illegible, they are in the process of being read.”

Much of Shono’s work explores the way in which storytelling influences contemporary society. “Human beings are hard-wired to gravitate towards constructed narratives,” he says. “We love to consume narrative in all of its different mediums — books, shows, movies, et cetera. This belief in narrative also helps us come together as tribes: We can gather around a narrative and that helps us organize ourselves according to certain rules (set out in) a story. It provides us with the power to organize in larger groups, gathered around a set of narratives and beliefs. Millions and millions of people can thus coordinate and be on the same page due to this commonly shared belief in a particular narrative — a narrative that everyone in this group has accepted as truth.”




“The Fifth Sun,” 2017. (Supplied)

The centerpiece of “The Silence is Still Talking” was “The Silent Press” — a large-scale installation composed of three attached pigment-on-paper scrolls that resemble an old printing press. The work is indicative of Shono’s explorations into the meaning behind the written word. “This is a printing press that is in a state of inactivity; it is thus silent and not in motion,” he says. “The pigments are agitated by sound so that one sees their resulting movements on paper, but without hearing the sound that made them appear so. I have taken intentionality out of my hands in an effort to discover new language and meaning.” 

So instead of recognizable words, the scrolls are covered in undefined black forms, revealing a language all its own.

“I am interested in the power of fluid interpretations and readings,” Shono tells Arab News. “Inflexible meanings versus words that have an open, more fluid interpretation.” 




“The Silent Press,” 2019. (Supplied)

Shono’s personal relationship with the written word is complicated. The artist is dyslexic and doesn’t feel comfortable writing in English or Arabic publicly, but these works allow him to “form my own language.” The ever-changing arrangements of that language naturally create ever-changing meanings for its ‘words.’

Shono reworked some of his pieces for BIENALSUR in light of his own, and other people’s, experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It often takes a few manifestations of a work to see the connection between things. They all speak to our relationship, personally and collectively, with change,” he says. “I feel like everything connects and resonates at the same time. It is all part of this continuous understanding of myself and my work and why I am doing what I am doing. 

“And change keeps coming,” he continues. “My work is about how we can accept and appreciate change and accept a more fluid way of reading things — rather than a rigid interpretation of the text.” 


Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh
Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News
Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural gaming and esports extravaganza, RUSH Festival, is currently underway in Riyadh. The five-day event, which wraps up on Oct. 26 as part of Riyadh Season 2021, is not short on entertainment.

Enjoy games

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Video game lovers can compete in more than 18 different gaming tournaments, including Tekken 7, Peggy, Overwatch, FIFA 2022, Call of Duty and many more.

Dress up

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Visitors are encouraged to dress up as their favorite video game or anime characters. Fans of the fictional universe who registered for the cosplay contest will compete for “best costume” and stand to win a grand prize of $18,662.

Shop

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

You can buy a souvenir for yourself or your loved ones from the many pop-up shops dotted throughout the venue.

Eat local

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

If you’re looking to fuel up, there is no shortage of restaurants and cafes to pick and choose from, including local eateries such as Ahal Al-Deera.

Live Music

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Catch live performances from a lineup of Saudi Arabia-based DJs, including DJ Vegas, DJ Bassel and DJ Memo Max, who will be setting the mood throughout the esports event.

Discover the latest in tech

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Explore the latest in gaming technology, with hyper-realistic virtual reality games, mobile games and more.


Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada
The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram
Updated 24 October 2021

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

DUBAI: US singer Chloe Bailey turned Atlanta’s State Farm Arena into her own personal runway this week as she was spotted sitting courtside with rapper Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game. For the game, the 23-year-old brought her signature style to the arena.

Bailey has a penchant for curve-hugging designs and is often spotted wearing form-fitting dresses, two-pieces and bodysuits on stage, on the red carpet or simply out and about. The game was no different.

Chloe Bailey and Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game in Atlanta. Getty Images

The hitmaker offered a stylish masterclass on courtside dressing wearing an abstract blue jumpsuit from British-Afghan-Pakistani designer Osman Yousefzada’s Osman Studios, styled by Nikki Cortez. The eye-catching bodysuit was a collaboration with print artist Alex Beattie.  

The British designer who was born to Pakistani and Afghani immigrants has had his tailored pieces worn by the likes of American singers Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. In addition to his celebrity-loved eponymous label, that launched in 2008, Yousefzada is also known for his multi-disciplinary artwork.

He often combines his love of fashion and art in his garments by collaborating with various artists such as Asif Khan, Celia Hempton, Christodolous Panayiotou and more.

Bailey accessorized the artsy look with a Gucci belt, black heels and hoop earrings. All together, the look was ready for a red carpet or fashion show appearance.

The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram   

The “Have Mercy” singer was also seen in the outfit earlier in the day when she greeted fans outside an appearance at Spelman College.

“I was so happy to speak with you beautiful ladies,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bailey’s courtside appearance with Gunna had fans wondering whether a romance or a possible collaboration is in the works.

The duo, who were sitting side-by-side, were put up on the Jumbotron and eventually their rumored romance became a trending topic on social media.

Ahead of their courtside appearance together, the “Drip Too Hard” rapper previously took to his Instagram to gush over Bailey, reposting her performance of “Have Mercy” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Neither Bailey or Gunna have commented on the rumors. 


Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Updated 24 October 2021

Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai brought together creative experts for the first session of the “Saudi Salon” late last week.

Organizers brought together a panel of experts on Thursday to discuss the role of creative industries in facilitating cultural transformation.

The discussion was held in the Palm Garden inside the Kingdom’s pavilion and moderated by Yasser Al-Saqqaf. Participants included Robert Frith from the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Francesca Hegyi from the Edinburgh International Festival, Sarah Al-Omran, deputy director of Art Jameel, Nora Al-Dabal from the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate and Robert Bock, a representative of the MDLBEAST festival in the Kingdom.

At the beginning of the session, Frith discussed the role that creative industries play in changing societies. He said that Ithra has managed to have a positive impact on Saudi society since its inauguration in 2016 and has also succeeded in adapting to changes around it

For her part, Hegyi emphasized that culture and creativity are the mirror of society and therefore they play an important role in facilitating change in societies in general. She added: “I think this indicates the type of change that can be brought out within societies. For this change to happen, they need to ratify a set of special policies and laws that can speed up the process.”

As for Al-Dabal, she reviewed the experience of AlUla Governorate, saying: “We are all aware of the deep history that AlUla holds and the different civilizations and cultures it has witnessed throughout history. I believe that the qualitative leap that this historical site is currently witnessing shows the impact of the creative industries and their ability to change a society. She also noted the importance of partnerships in creative industries, saying: “Such partnerships are important, as they work to stimulate cooperation on one hand and on the other, contribute to deepening the effects that creative industries have on society”.

Bock, meanwhile, stressed “the power of creative industries and their ability to sharpen the human mind,” saying: “We cannot deny that the Kingdom has witnessed, in recent years, a qualitative leap in the cultural sector, which allowed the creative industries to develop faster and stronger. This created new platforms and partnerships allowing creative talents to reach out to the community and introduce themselves to it.”


‘Feathers’: Award-winning Egyptian film is dark and brilliant

The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)
The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 24 October 2021

‘Feathers’: Award-winning Egyptian film is dark and brilliant

The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)

CHENNAI: Omar El-Zohairy’s debut Egyptian work, “Feathers,” was both lauded and lambasted. Despite its big win at Cannes Critics Week with a Grand Prize and the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the recent El Gouna Film Festival, it was viewed as offensive to the country by some. Some Egyptian directors and actors, including Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Rizk and Ashraf Abdel Baqi, walked out of the screening last week, claiming it portrayed Egypt in a negative light.  

Be that as it may, “Feathers” is an absurdist drama that presents a disturbing cocktail of magic, mystery and madness, weaving its plot through acutely sparse frames. A story of a meek wife (Demyana Nassar) and a horridly domineering husband (Samy Bassiouny) with three very young children, she is portrayed as subdued and slavish.

Listless to the point of looking terribly unhappy, she faintly sparkles when he decides to organize a magic show to celebrate his son’s fourth birthday. It ends in a disaster when the magician turns the husband into a chicken, but fails to transform him back to his original self. The wife is left with a bird that she feeds and nurses. It is only after her back-breaking search to find the magician, all the while struggling to earn a pittance to buy food for her family, that the director lets us into a horrible truth and its repercussions. 

Similar to somber, straight-faced Finnish helmer Aki Kaurismaki’s work, “Feathers” is shot in greys and dull lighting. The tonal mix establishes the stark reality of a woman who eventually graduates from utter passivity to surprising dominance. The drab looking buildings, the exposed pipelines and the family’s bare and dingy home, filmed with incisive camerawork by Kamal Samy, add to the sheer helplessness of the wife. But the script is engrossing, with a narrative that is dark, hiding an unbelievable piece of information, which when it comes will throw you off guard. 

The movie works as a brutal look at patriarchy, though this is handled with admirable restraint in the screenplay, co-written by El-Zohairy and Ahmed Amer. With the woman’s attitude changing so subtly, the drama underplays the climax. It is not really about revenge but about discovering one’s self-respect.


Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen
Megan Fox rose to prominence for her role in ‘Transformers.’ Instagram
Updated 23 October 2021

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

DUBAI: It seems that Megan Fox cannot get enough of Lebanese footwear label Andrea Wazen. The 35-year-old actress is often photographed wearing the Beirut-based designer’s creations, including this week when she stepped out for an off-duty stroll in Los Angeles championing the brand’s Denver pumps in black.

The “Transformers” star elevated her mesh sandals with a faux leather cropped blazer and boyfriend jeans from her recently-launched collection with fast-fashion retailer Boohoo, paired with a bright blue JW Pei handbag.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Maeve Reilly (@stylememaeve)

Last month, the star wore Wazen’s heels to the REVOLVE Gallery Private Event in New York City.

Fox opted for a pair of clear pointed-toe heels with gold-strap detailing, called the Dassy Sunset PVC Pumps.

She matched her heels with a sporty pale yellow jacket and matching flared pants.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Fox (@meganfox)

Also in recent weeks, Fox shared photos on Instagram wearing a pair of transparent shoes designed by Wazen that featured green criss-cross detailing.

Meanwhile in July, the star championed the designer’s lace-up Mandaloun heels in blue.

Fox isn’t the only celebrity fan of the Lebanese label, however.

In fact, Andrea Wazen is shaping up to be the next big footwear brand to watch.

Since launching in 2013, the label’s strappy sandals and stilettos have made their way onto the pedicured toes of A-listers and It-girls across the globe, including Beyonce, Hailey Bieber, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Addison Rae, who have all championed Wazen’s creations.

The London-born designer, who is the younger sister of Lebanese fashion blogger Karen Wazen, launched her eponymous, celebrity-approved label in Beirut following stints with some of the most renowned footwear designers in the world, including Christian Louboutin and Rupert Sanderson.

After picking up leading shoe magazine Footwear News’s prestigious Emerging Talents Award and being named Accessories Designer of the Year by Fashion Trust Arabia last year, Wazen joins a lineup of inimitable Arab female footwear designers who have seen both critical and commercial success with their brands, including Jordanian-Romanian Amina Muaddi, Kuwaiti designer Najeeba Hayat of Liudmila and Lebanese-Australian Katrine Hanna.