Lisa Kaaki, [email protected]
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2011-07-06 11:15

Lulwah Al-Homoud, Co-curator of The NABATT Exhibition shown in Beirut, has recently commented that right now, Saudi artists are “producing some incredible work.”
The ample supply of resources for artistic production, combined with the Gulf region’s increased interest in art, has unleashed a formidable artistic creativity. Saudi artists are experimenting with a wide range of media especially video, painting and installation. They produce artwork, which engages not only our sight, but also our sense of hearing and touch. This multimedia artwork is no longer static; by mixing traditional arts with sound and video, the project comes to life.
Incidentally, Installation art came to prominence in the 1970s, and it refers to three-dimensional works designed to transform a viewer’s perception of a space. The expectations and social habits that the viewer takes with him into the space of the installation will remain with him as he enters, to be either applied or negated once he has taken in the new environment.
Sarah Abu Abdullah’s work deals with the act of covering. Through photography and video, she investigates different meanings the cover produces as it sheathes a subject, in reference to gender roles and women covering. The artist covers various subjects to impose on them the experience of a female, exploring in the process issues of obscurity and value. In this Installation Art exhibit, the artist has chosen materials and media for their evocative qualities. This three-dimensional work has been designed to transform our perception.
Hala Ali’s work engages in the exploration of text, language and contextual meaning. Through the use of various types of media in installations, the works investigate the politicization of objects with text as the vehicle to altering meaning. The artist asks us whether “visual thinking” precedes conceptual thought. Even if we are not able to answer this question, this original exhibit, thanks to its use of new technology increases the impact of art on our ways of thinking and our modes of existence.
With the improvement of technology, Gulf artists are now able to explore new creative avenues, thanks to bold and experimental media. Emirati curator and art patron Rami Farook has established Traffic, a 10,000 sq.ft space, as a showcase for the surge of contemporary art, especially Installation Art by artists from the region and beyond. Through its various initiatives, Traffic aims to increase understanding and appreciation for art within the national and global audiences it serves. It does so by providing a venue for constant learning and experimentation, holding stimulating exhibitions that push the boundaries of curatorial practice in the Middle East, and providing a platform for dialogue and education. Amongst the artists currently represented by Traffic are the Saudi artists, Faisal Samra and Abdulnasser Gharem. Incidentally, Faisal Samra’s first work, “Improvisation-Distorted Reality” 2005, is shown in Beirut at NABATT: “Sense of Being,” a contemporary Saudi Arabian art exhibition taking place at MENASART Fair.
In this interesting piece, Samra presents and merges actual elements in a bizarre manner, transporting the viewer into an unknown realm: a space that is quasi-fantastic, yet fundamentally based upon a reality; a place that reflects the outer world.
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