Following the last issue of Selections, Frequently Asked Questions in Art, we continue our quest to analyse what surrounds us in the art world. However, this time, for our 21 Artists and a Biennial issue, we take you backstage to expose you to the world of research in the 21st century. Because the most important part of our work is research, we analyse both the material we receive and what we find, basing ourselves on today’s most common search tools: online search engines, online encyclopaedia, social media, carefully written press releases, email exchanges with the artist’s gallery and the artist him/herself. After laying down the information we’ve gathered onto our pages, we invite you to make your own analysis.
ZAHRAH AL GHAMDI
PhD. in Design and Visual Arts
at Coventry University in Britain
LAND ART PIONEER
SAUDI CONCEPTUAL ARTIST
ZAHRAH AL GHAMDI’S WORK EXPLORES MEMORY AND HISTORY THROUGH TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE IN BOTH MEDIUM AND ASSEMBLAGE. HER SITESPECIFIC WORK SEES THE LABORIOUS AND METICULOUS PROCESS IN WHICH SHE ASSEMBLES PARTICLES OF EARTH, CLAY, ROCKS, LEATHER AND WATER.
She is now a
faculty member of
the Islamic Arts
“The most influential person to me was my father, who also specialised and taught art. He inspired me, as he drew around me.”
In 2017, she showed a site-specific piece in the Great Court of the British Museum as part of the Shubbak Festival of Arab Culture.
GROWING UP IN THE SOUTHWESTERN REGION OF
SAUDI ARABIA SURROUNDED BY TRADITIONAL
ASEERI ARCHITECTURE HAS PLAYED AN
INTEGRAL ROLE IN THE PRACTICE.
“Both art and science seek truth, but art stems from imagination… it is a way that weaves round and round the long way whereas with science it is more direct… based on facts that go directly from one point to another.”
Mycelium Running, 2018. Al Ghamdi continues to urge us to question our race’s impact on the planet we inhabit and the consequences of our behaviour as a species. With pollution rampant, the key to humanity’s future and the safeguard of our planet might be right under our feet, in these raw exposed nervous systems of fungal networks digesting the world we are leaving behind.
Streams Move Oceans, 2019. Al-Ghamdi examines love, fragility and the complex and opposing duality of relationships as the basis of social living. Be it a connection between people or elements, ties are created to form an exchange of diverse associations and pace resulting in intricate knots. To the unsuspecting eye, the picture looks uniform and clear, what lies beneath however is infinite connections and layers of complexity and possibilities that which create our rich existential heritage. Each movement of these weaves and ties carry its risks and hopes of building or breaking the bearings of our social structures. Every one of these microscopic links represents a relation between elements, individuals, brushing off surfaces and forming new and sometimes improbable perspectives.
VENICE BIENNALE – ZAHRAH AL GHAMDI
Zahrah Al Ghamdi represents Saudi Arabia at the 58th Venice Biennale 2019.
The title After Illusion is inired by a line from an ancient Arabic poem written by Zuhayr bin Abi Sulma (b.520 – d.609), in which he described his struggle to recognise his home after being away for 20 years. Only “illusion” helped the 80-year-old poet recognise it – a state of mind that we fight during our search for the “truth” but somehow it paves a path to it.
The exhibition aims to recognise, reconnect and revisit a feeling where one tries to explore something familiar; a step into an imaginary world created by the artist to seek comfort in her journey towards self-realisation. After Illusion is curated by Eiman Elgibreen, to reflect on the history of Saudi Arabia and its identity. The team is guided by project advisor Nada Shabout.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, 21 ARTISTS AND A BIENNIAL #49, PAGES 164-169.