RIYADH: A Riyadh art gallery has opened an exhibition exploring time, the mind and the changing world through installations by a dozen local and international artists.
Misk Art Institute’s “Tales of Nostalgia” opened at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall on Oct. 2 to showcase conceptual artworks by creators from Europe and the Middle East.
“Cold Flux” by London-based Ben Cullen Williams, explores the effects of global warming on the Larsen-B ice shelf, which splintered and almost entirely collapsed 20 years ago. The artist’s installation uses video taken during his own trip to Antarctica, and comparisons with later satellite imagery.
His footage was passed through an AI algorithm that distorts and morphs the images as the shelf changes and disappears over time.
“I thought it’d be interesting to kind of potentially rebuild these landscapes through the use of technology, a thing that kind of destroyed it,” Williams told Arab News. “Fundamentally, it talks about our changing planet, how our planet is constantly moving and morphing. But it also kind of brings the question, is technology the solution to our current problems?”
“Novae”, an audio-visuel work by the French art collective Lab212, uses a recreated star field to explore the constellations and the history of astronomy, while sounds of nature and a poem by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen, “Khouf wa Sikat,” plays.
Saudi artist Abeer Sultan’s work, “An Imagined Perpetual Past” focuses on Medini marital traditions, and the bride’s anonymity and the extravagance of her clothing.
Daniah Alsaleh’s “Rewind, Play, Glitch” explores nostalgia and the distortion of memory by time through the use of digital photos on a living room wall that change and morph.
The MAI also exhibits various works from artists Muhannad Shono, Ayman Zedani, Asma Belhamar, Sultan bin Fahad, Zimoun, Fuse, Katie Paterson, and Laurent Grasso.
Nawaf Al-Harbi, MAI’s acting strategy & development director, told Arab News that he hoped the exhibition could also be used as a platform for cultural exchange opportunities.
“The aim is to continue the conversations, to get artists, especially the international ones, to run some workshops and master classes, so it's also part of the connection,”
The exhibition runs until January 15, and is open to the public from 4 pm to 10 pm.
Tom Cruise to attend Middle East premiere of ‘Mission Impossible’ in Abu Dhabi
Updated 06 June 2023
DUBAI: The UAE is set to host the Middle East premiere of the eagerly awaited “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” at a red-carpet event at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace on June 26.
The film’s screening will be attended by Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie.
Some of the movie’s scenes were shot in the Liwa desert and the Midfield Terminal in the UAE capital’s airport.
McQuarrie, Cruise, and the cast and crew shot in the emirate for almost two weeks in 2021 with the support of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission and other local production partners, including twofour54 Abu Dhabi.
It marks the second time the Paramount Pictures’ franchise has filmed in Abu Dhabi following the HALO jump sequence for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” in 2018.
Khalfan Al-Mazrouei, acting director general of Creative Media Authority, said: “Hosting the premiere of ‘Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One’ is an honor for Abu Dhabi and is also a reflection of the position the emirate holds as one of the Middle East and North Africa region’s top film and TV locations.
“We are proud to have worked with such a genre-defining franchise once again and it demonstrates how Abu Dhabi has everything filmmakers need to successfully complete such large, complex productions.”
An interesting fact that Al-Theeb revealed was that people from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses on rocks
Updated 04 June 2023
MAKKAH: Many monuments in the Arabian Peninsula have been found bearing inscriptions in the Thamudic, Nabataean and Safaitic languages invoking evil upon those who try to tamper with or obliterate them.
One such Thamudic inscription, dating between the end of the first century AD to the fourth century AD, was found by a Saudi citizen named Khalid Al-Fraih in the Tabhar area northwest of Tabuk, which is dotted with many ancient inscriptions and monuments.
People from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses, on rocks contrary to those who lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, where inscriptions were exclusively written by the leaders or those who with a high status.
Professor of ancient Arabic writings, Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, told Arab News that this Thamudic inscription is written on the facade of one of the mountains of Wadi Tabhar. “What is interesting is that they used curses so that evil befalls … those who distort and sabotage … it. This type of curse is well known in the Thamudic, Nabataean, Palmyrian and Safaitic inscriptions.”
People who inhabited the area centuries ago were pagans who indulged in idol worship.
“This curse was written, most likely, to intimidate and scare away those who want to destroy their god … and the purpose of intimidation by cursing is to maintain and keep what has been written,” he said.
In order to prevent others from attacking their rocks, they used to write on them words of threat, curse and intimidation of the wrath of the gods. The fear was real and people would then refrain from destroying the rocks.
Dr. Suleiman Al-Theeb, Professor of ancient Arabic writings
Al-Theeb also revealed that the writings and inscriptions on rocks were similar to published material that we see today. “If two people disagree or a problem occurred between them, they would usually attack the rock of others. In order to prevent others from attacking their rocks, they used to write on them words of threat, curse and intimidation of the wrath of the gods. The fear was real and people would then refrain from destroying the rocks.”
An interesting fact that Al-Theeb revealed was that people from all walks of life living in the Arabian Peninsula had the freedom to engrave their thoughts, feelings, poetry, or curses on rocks, contrary to those who lived in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, where inscriptions were exclusively written by leaders or those who with high status.
The professor stressed that these inscriptions are very important as they depict the history of previous civilizations, and should be monitored and documented by specialists to preserve them.
International artists explore Saudi landscape in new exhibition
Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose
Updated 03 June 2023
RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute’s latest Masaha Residency art showcase features 11 global and local artists and two writers whose projects explore tradition in the context of social development.
The fifth cycle of the three-month cross-cultural program brought together an international cohort of artists to develop fresh, research-driven art projects. Through architecture, music, and culture, several artists discovered traces of their own homes in the Saudi landscape.
Fahdah Althonayan, director of the education department at Misk, told Arab News: “Each cycle has its own uniqueness. Within this one, we had the opportunity to experiment with dual artists … it is a new thing that we tried with (them) to work together on their artwork, which surprised us as well.
“The variety of Saudi, khaleeji, and foreigners from different continents was amazing. It is an enriching experience.”
Ilyas Hajji, a photographer, and Nastya Indrikova, a researcher, are a Russian duo who worked on reconstructing the Hajj pilgrimage route, which was often dangerous.
Although it was modernized, many still struggled to make the trip from Russia, including the Muslim population in Dagestan during and after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The pair used items brought back from Hajj to highlight the effect on millions who were free to travel after the union’s dissolution.
Palestinian artist Areej Kaoud, who lives and works in London, took to the marketplaces of Riyadh to find a sense of belonging in her piece “Still Hungry.”
“In all these spaces, they pick things. You think that the owner is just trying to sell you things but he’s also trying to heal his own uprootedness,” Kaoud told Arab News.
Kaoud’s studio is the backdrop for a video documenting the offerings of a market staffed by diaspora from other countries, who preserve and share the traditions of back home.
The studio wall is covered with phrases including “Can one heal uprootedness with food?,” “Is being home a state of ‘non-hunger’?” and “Insatiable in diaspora.”
Liao Lihong, a Chinese artist living in Paris, merged an abacus with the shapes of a qanun and an oud to create a unique musical instrument.
“When I studied in China in elementary school, we had a class using the abacus, but now we do not use it anymore because we have calculators,” she said. “But the sound (they make) was always in my mind. The idea is when people use the abacus to calculate numbers, it also plays music."
Aleena Khan bolsters Saudi Arabia’s historical first — a female astronaut and her colleague reaching the International Space Station last month.
Her artwork “A Calling from the Moon” toys with a popular myth in Pakistan that the Adhan, the call to prayer, was heard by Neil Armstrong on the moon.
Her work draws comparisons between the moon’s landscape and an Arabian desert.
She said: “I started to draw what the material on the moon looks like and then I sourced anything that looks similar to it and took it to the desert and shot it.
“What if these landscapes were one?”
In the fragments of Riyadh’s demolished architecture, artist Dia Mrad found hope for their new beginning in his studio. The Lebanese photographer spent months researching and photographing changes in the city’s neighborhoods to create the work “Traditions of Change.”
In line with his practice, which looks to extract narratives from a built environment, he screen-printed fallen pieces of debris with photos of homes that are scheduled for demolition in Riyadh.
“The Kingdom goes through cycles of change — every 30 or 40 years, a big change happens. The latest change that’s happening is Vision 2030, and it’s such a massive change that it’s affecting everything and it’s manifesting largely within the built environment. The history of a city is embedded within its materiality,” Mrad explained.
The exhibition, which spans various mediums including installation, textile, silkscreen and Arabic writing among others, can be viewed at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh until June 10.
From Red Motorcade to grand reception: How royal wedding paid homage to Jordanian, Saudi culture
Updated 02 June 2023
DUBAI: The Middle East’s newest power couple, Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II and Saudi Arabia’s Rajwa Al-Saif, tied the knot on June 1 in a ceremony and following reception that was filled with nods to both Jordanian and Saudi history, heritage, and customs.
Getting married days before the 30th wedding anniversary of the groom’s parents, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, one of the biggest royal events in Jordan since 1993 began with an elegant wedding ceremony in the manicured gardens of Zahran Palace.
The Saudi bride arrived at the palace in a 1968 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, custom-made for the late Queen Zein Al-Sharaf, the crown prince’s great grandmother.
After the religious ceremony, the couple took part in a royal motorcade procession through the streets of Amman, waving to cheering crowds as they headed to Al-Husseiniya Palace for the grand reception.
The Red Motorcade, as it is officially known, has its roots in the era of King Abdullah I, the founder of Jordan, who would arrive at significant national events atop one of a procession of white horses, accompanied by riders dressed in dark blue trousers and red blazers.
The motorcade consisted of eight bright red armed Land Rover vehicles and 11 motorcycles, but on special occasions, horse and camel riders join the line-up and the Jordanian Armed Forces Band plays military music on bagpipes.
The Land Rovers and motorcycles cordoned the main motorcade vehicle, a 1984 Range Rover, which carried the newlyweds.
The Range Rover was especially customized for the visit of the late Queen Elizabeth II to Jordan by UK company Wood and Pickett.
During the British queen’s state visit, which took place in March 1984, the vehicle was used by the late King Hussein to drive the monarch and her husband the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to Petra and other locations in the south of Jordan.
The custom Range Rover, which has been dubbed the Sheer Rover, has been elongated and features a cut-off roof. New white leather upholstery has also been installed, including four individual Recaro electric seats.
Apart from the religious ceremony, the wedding reception also incorporated Jordanian and Saudi design elements.
The crown prince and his bride were greeted by the customary zaffeh, a lively musical procession featuring drums, bagpipes, singing, and clapping.
The smiling couple were then led to the outdoor reception courtyard by a rousing military zaffeh performed by the Jordanian Armed Forces Band, sporting the traditional red and white headdress and dress uniforms.
Guests entered the reception on a path that evoked the Jordanian desert, featuring a 20-meter-long handwoven traditional Bedouin rug, created by the Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project in the village of Mukawir in Madaba.
Inside, guests were greeted by the sight of native olive trees surrounded by a dune-like display of dates, which represented both Jordanian and Saudi cultures, an ode to the newlyweds’ home countries.
The venue featured an installation of five large-scale mesh arches, inspired by the architecture of the palace and the desert landscape of Jordan’s Wadi Rum.
Meanwhile, guest seats were adorned with traditional embroidery patterns, handstitched by female artisans from Al-Karma Embroidery Center and the Jerash Women Charitable Society – established to empower local women and promote traditional handiworks.
Tables were made from natural Madaba stone and decorated with hand-blown glass vases and traditional clay pottery made by local artisans.
The decor also incorporated hand-hammered basalt stone from the north of Jordan and local seasonal flowers such as jasmine. Other design elements paid homage to Jordan’s wheat-harvesting season, which is in full swing, with elements reimagining the traditional threshing board used to shred wheat and release its grain.