Moath Alofi's artwork.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Misk Art Institute (MAI), under the auspices of the Misk Foundation established by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has launched Imprint, a photography, film and digital exhibition (Oct. 4, 2020 — Jan. 28, 2021).
Curated by Latifa Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa and featuring the works of 17 Saudi and Gulf artists, the show is being held at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Gallery (or Masaha, meaning ‘space’ in Arabic), established in 1985 in Riyadh as a governmental hall dedicated to fine arts. It was renovated by MAI and reopened in 2019.
“Imprint offers viewers a mirror of sorts – the opportunity to view themselves reflected in the artwork through the multiple interpretations presented in various media.
“The artistic perspectives offer a study of Gulf identity while simultaneously examining Arab identity”, says Al Khalifa.
“The show intends to reintroduce aspects of identity through works that re-evaluate and challenge the concept of the self and what that means today within the context of Saudi and Gulf culture”.
“Our aim at Misk Art Institute is to empower and provide talents the platform they need to express themselves.The creativity of these individuals is a reflection of our culture and a continuation of a journey that was initiated by a long line of pioneering artists.
“Now is the time for these young talents, this is their moment, and we are here to make it happen”, said Reem Alsultan, MAI CEO.
Viewers are welcomed to Imprint with Transcendence 2.0, a large-scale immersive installation by Saudi artist Nasser AlShemimry. A multiscreen experience filled with two million particle systems, the work responds to generative sound environments in real time, producing a cacophony of sounds.
Other highlights of Imprint include Lulwah AlHomoud’s The Space Within, a site-specific installation of geometric rhythmic patterns that examine the power of words and comprise intricate patterns on glass illuminated by LED lights representing the 99 names of Allah; Faisal Samra’s Schizophrenia, a video that acts as an observation of the new mode of speech practiced by GCC inhabitants which depicts a young Arab woman mixing the Arabic and English languages as she banters on; and Reem AlNasser’s Al Fulle, a series of low-exposure portraits that aim to examine a bridal ritual practiced in the southern region of Saudi Arabia, where a jasmine flower is tied with strings to the bride’s hair.
Additionally, and as part of MAI’s mandate to encourage creativity and serve as a platform for emerging artists, Imprint has also launched an open call for young talents specialising in photography and digital art.
Over 140 submissions were received from across the Arab world and vetted by a committee comprising Al Khalifa, Saudi artist Moath AlOfi and representatives from MAI.
The works of 19 emerging artists are also displayed in a dedicated space within the exhibition.To complement the physical exhibition, the institute presents a 3D virtual tour of the show on MAI’s website, allowing audience access both in Saudi and abroad. A bilingual catalogue (Arabic and English) has been produced and is available on the MAI site.
Other participating artists are Ahaad AlAmoudi, Khalid AlJabri, Mashael AlSaie, Ajlan Gharem, Bader AlBalawi, Maha AlAsaker, Mohammmed AlFaraj, Eiman ElGibreen, Maha Malluh, Mohammad AlKouh, Mai AlMoataz and the duo of Theories of Imagination (Abdulla Buhijji and Noor Alwan).
Al Khalifa is a researcher, curator and writer focusing on Arab culture from the Middle East and North Africa, with a concentration on the Arabian Gulf. In 2016, she launched her arts consultancy Too Far, which champions artists and creatives from the MENA region on a global scale.
She holds an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College, University of London (2012) and has curated several projects and exhibitions in the UK, UAE and Bahrain.
Some of her notable exhibitions include This is Awkward, a digital project launched at the Shubbak Festival (2019); An Ode to Life, outdoor sculptures at the Bahrain Fort Museum (2017); The Bahrain House at SIKKA Art Fair, Dubai (2017) and Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa Art Prize and public sculpture programme for Al Riwaq’s Art Space’s Annual Festival (2015) in Manama.
She is a regular contributor to Khaleejesque and Tribe Magazine and is an alumnus of the Bangkok edition of the ICI Curatorial Intensive (2018). Website: https://www.too-far.co/ MAI is an art and culture platform operating under the auspices of the Misk Foundation, established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Founded in 2017 to encourage grassroots artistic production in Saudi Arabia, it seeks to nurture the appreciation of Saudi and Arab art and enable international cultural diplomacy and exchange.
Since its inception, the institute has launched various significant initiatives within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and internationally, including the Misk Art Week, educational, training and residency programmes, as well as exhibitions that explore contemporary and modern art as well as shows that reflect Saudi historical significance.
In 2019 and as part of its mission to promote the Kingdom’s art arena, MAI renovated the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Gallery. In the 1980s and 1990s, it staged exhibitions for renowned Saudi artists, including Mohammed Al Saleem, Abdul Halim Radwi and Safeya Binzagr.
Binzagr opened her own museum and gallery in Jeddah, the Darat Safeya Binzagr, in 2000.
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