Edge of Arabia launched #cometogether in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick lane last on Saturday. Open till Oct 28th, #cometogether is a collection of Middle Eastern contemporary Artists’ work that address issues of identity, culture and society. I’m a big fan of Edge of Arabia, an initiative that started in 2007 with contemporary Saudi artists. They are now expanding outside Saudi to include other Arab and North African countries. As excited as I was, circumstances beyond my control only allowed me to check it out on Monday. As a designer, I really liked how you could collect a flyer on each artwork, therefore compiling your own brochure of your favorite work. I did wish they had some sort of file or folder to hold them in and maybe a bag (because it was raining outside and I didn’t want the exhibition magazine or flyers to get wet).
Below are pictures of my favorite pieces, and why:
This piece titled Approximate Feast is a collaboration by Hala Ali & Lantian Xie, what interested me about it was on several different levels. A- its an interactive wall projection, so it fits right in with what my MA research has lead me to. B- Its a social critique. C- Its witty.
This group of men can be seen from afar to be eating greedily in a non-stop loop, but as soon as you approach them they start slowing down until they come to a full stop when you are right in front of them. They don’t start eating again till you move away. Read into it what you will, I found it both comic and accurate!
This piece, The Situation Room by Muzamil Choudhury pretty much speaks for itself. The texture and materials used are linked with south Asian craft, used by the Pakistani-descent artist to challenge this famous photograph and create a dialogue around it.
Ahmad Mater’s installation was perhaps the most overwhelming and impressive for me. Made of of four screens with four channel videos projected onto them, you sit in the middle and experience a sort-of sensory overload. The sounds from the four alternate, but the images from Makkah, birds in the sky, a drummer, light toys twirling endlessly, views of the Haram (Mosque) all come together to give a very intimate and very vivid experience with the city. Since I come from Jeddah, a city that is an hour’s drive away and that shares a lot of its culture due to the pilgrims entering the country through my city, I instantly felt that connection. It was like a flashback into the old town, only deeper because this is Makkah. The sounds build up to a crescendo by the drummer, then they die out suddenly with the end of the videos.
I might go there again just to sit in that corner and lose myself in the light and sounds.
The rest of the works were awesome as well, but those were the ones that stuck in my mind most of all. I’m also just giving you a taster so you can go check it out for yourself and see what resonates with you. For more info check out the Edge of Arabia Facebook page or website.