Dedicated to an artist-centred approach of cultural preservation, the space nurtures the talent of the region. Launched on October 4 2020 and on display until January 28 2021, Latifa Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa has curated Imprint: an exhibition of film, photography and digital arts comprising 17 artists from Saudi and the Gulf. The event will be hosted at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Gallery, established in 1985, but renovated and reopened in 2019 by MAI.
By Olivia Melkonian
“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,”
explains curator of the exhibition, Latifa Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa. “The show intends to
reintroduce aspects of identity through works that reevaluate and challenge the concept of
the self and what that means today within the context of Saudi and Gulf culture.”
From a long lineage of rich cultural history and trade, Imprint allows space for these artists to both remove themselves from stereotypes but also re-define themselves through four sub-categories; the past and memory, a deconstruction of the self, connections with nature, and mindful reflections. Misk Art Institute aims to support their local talent, and connect them with a wider, international audience while also encouraging the development of their work within the Kingdom.
Narratives of nostalgia and the protection of our past enjoyments, analyses of the peppered use of English within the Arabic language, explorations of female Arab identity and exposure to the region’s history and landscapes describe just a few of the exhibits on display now at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Gallery. The masaha (space) is located on the corner of King Saud Road and Teacher Othman AlSaleh Street in An Namudhajiyah in the Kingdom’s capital.
Reem Alsultan, CEO of Misk Art Institute describes “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,”.
Schizophrenia is a video installation depicting a young Arab woman chatting naturally in Arabic and English. Samra’s observation of modern language in the GCC is deliberately split in half, shown through the woman’s dress of half-Niqab, half-Western attire.
Visual artist Bader Al Balawi represents the Saudi of the past, through his typology series of digitally captured Balilah Kushks (kiosks) and their presence in his memory and nostalgia. Over time, Al Balawi saw these kiosks replaced by food trucks, a symbol of the capitalistic era our world has been steered into.
Depicted through a series of black and white digital photography, Alasaker invites the viewer to take a deeper look into the self, offering an exhibit of identity in a space of darkness and beauty. The arrangement of inanimate objects posed side by side with the self serve as a reminder that we become who we are due to the forces of the outside world.
Imprint has also launched an open call for artists specialising in photography and digital art around the region to submit their work to be exhibited within the gallery. After receiving over 140 submissions, a committee composed of curator Latifa Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa, Saudi artist Moath AlOfi and fellow MAI representatives narrowed down 19 artists to display within a dedicated space of the gallery. This initiative aims to encourage creativity and provide a platform for emerging talent within the region.
Complementing the physical exhibition, the Misk Art Institute have also presented a 3D virtual tour of the show which you can view here , allowing audiences access both in Saudi and abroad. A bilingual catalogue (Arabic and English) has been produced and is also available on the MAI Site.