ATHR brings three young artists from Saudi Arabia whose works collectively stem from personal references. The works not only shed-light on social, cultural and political normalcies and practices, but are posed to suggest the necessity of re-questioning the ‘regularity’ that has become inherit within the addressed subject matter of each work.
Nasser Al-Salem’s work City Nomads is a movingly nostalgic piece that is a drastic departure from the artist’s previous calligraphic work. The subject, one that is close to his heart, is of the nomadic traditions that are forcibly disappearing by the ever-expanding cities and fast-paced modernization. The work comprises of hanging traditional tent flaps (that made-up the entrances of tents) on a number of scaffolds. Each tent-flap is marked with calligraphic verses and indications of modern-day ”tagging” that geo-records their location. The scaffolds are assembled in a way that force the viewer to explore and discover the tent-flaps within the skeletal structure. The assembly of tent-flaps, a traditional material for constructing the homes of Nomads, lay in stark contrast to the use of scaffolds, a modern day means for constructing buildings. Nasser’s hollow structure alludes to the flimsy and unstable, and appears to both highlight and question the foundation in which culture and tradition will continue to exist or disappear.
Sara Abu Abdullah presents Salad Zone, a video installation that showcases disarrayed glimpses of multiple narratives such as that of; familial domestic tensions, a juvenile dream of going to Japan, the tendency to smash TVs in moments of anger, and eating fish. While using scenes from the artist’s surroundings and life in Saudi Arabia, like streets or malls, it never attempts to provide the whole picture, but takes a rhizomatic approach to tell a story of the everyday life.
Abdullah Al-Othman: In February 2015, Abdullah Al-Othman culminated months of research into the use of music as weaponry, with a performance titled No Touch Torture. Sitting within a glass box, he listened for three solid hours to twenty-one songs reportedly used by the CIA as a torture technique in ‘war on terror’ prisons, namely Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. For his installation at ABC, the artist combines different elements including footage, research and sound as testaments to the performance. In this way, Othman confronts the viewer with the raw ingredients - human, almost forensic evidence of the behaviour of mankind in the face of extremism.