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The Mosaic Rooms presents the UK debut of three young female artists from Saudi Arabia. In Shift, Dana Awartani, Zahrah Al-Ghamdi and Reem Al-Nasser respond to their experiences of accelerated change in their country, in the built environment of their cities and in domestic spaces. Caught between a future driven by globalisation and rapid urban development, and a past at risk of erasure, the artists consider their own position, and reflect on what is important to them as individuals and as part of the wider collective.
Dana Awartani presents I went away and forgot you. A while ago I remembered. I remembered I’d forgotten you. I was dreaming. A film shows a light filled room in an abandoned house, with what appears to be a traditional Islamic tiled floor. The patterned floor is an intricate installation of hand dyed sand and as we watch the artist steps into frame to sweep it away. The sand work will be recreated by Awartani on the floor of the gallery. The work reflects on the impact of urban development in Jeddah, and what the artist views as a social obsession with progress at a cost of losing what is left behind.
Zahrah Al-Ghamdi’s Cell of the City is a large wall based installation, built on site by the artist for the exhibition. Made of sand, clay and cloth, the structure’s rough surface will naturally alter over the period of its display. Al- Ghamdi’s sculpture is informed by her own experiences of growing up in the traditional architecture of South- West Saudi Arabia. The work attempts to embody the contemporary loss of these regional styles.
Reem Al-Nasser’s The Silver Plate is a resonant work that attempts to simulate an experience of fear and anxiety. The three part multimedia installation represents the past (an audio piece) the present (dual screen video installation), and the future (a printed booklet). A largescale video installation contrasts two opposing states of celebration and domestic chores, it alludes to the artist’s own experiences as a Saudi woman in Jizan and the effects of cultural practices on an individual and a community. The piece articulates the process of addressing the past, to be able to move forward in personal and collective lives.
About the artists
Dana Awartani studied at Central St Martins and The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. Her work has been exhibited in Saudi Arabia, the Venice Biennale, San Francisco and the Kochi Biennale. Awartani uses traditional craft techniques to produce contemporary multi-media works.
Zahrah Al-Ghamdi is based in Saudi Arabia. Her work explores memory and the past in traditional architecture. Al-Ghamdi’s work has been exhibited in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and the UK. She was awarded her PhD at Coventry University, UK and teaches art at the King Abdulaziz University.
Reem Al-Nasser is from Jizan in Saudi Arabia. Her work is informed by personal experience and close observation of the themes of movement and mobility and cultural change. She has exhibited in Saudi Arabia including at 21,39 earlier this year.
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The commission of Zahrah Al Ghamdi has been generously supported by individual donors Faisal Tamer and Sara Alireza.
© Image: Dana Awartani, I went away and forgot you. A while ago I remembered. I remembered I’d forgotten you. I was dreaming. Video, 2017.