From internationally renowned visual artists such as Hend al-Mansour to Edge of Arabia founder Ahmed Mater, the Saudi art scene is thriving both in terms of its artistic and creative output.
Having a space where your creativity can be facilitated is just as important, if not more, than the artwork itself – simply being able to inhabit an environment that inspires creativity and experimentation.
One of the more conservative art spaces in Saudi, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture serves this purpose, and if anything its institutional identity shows how, more than ever, contemporary art is being celebrated as public art.
One of the most innovative exhibitions hosted by the museum is currently on display: Zamakan: Notions of Time and Space. Curated by Candida Pestana, the exhibition showcases Saudi multimedia artists, who question the notion of the art practice in space, both literally and figuratively through experimentation with the ontological philosophy of space and time.
As summarised by Pestana in a recent interview, “Zamakan is a contemporary word for the Arabic language. It combines two words: space and time. It has been used in the Arab world more in regards to science fiction or physics. Each artist’s work investigates these elements differently through use of the environment behind each material and the inherent stories within the materials that they use”.
Artists on display are Ahmad Angawi, Omar Abduljawad, Moath Alofi, Aziz Jamal, Muhannad Shono, Abdullah Al Othman, Sara Abdu, Ayman Zedani, and Zahra Al-Ghamdi. Despite their shared cultural backgrounds, each artist responds very differently to notions of space and time, through the heightened subjectivities of the senses as enabled by multimedia art.
The exhibition shifts between different mediums, giving full reverberation to all the senses. For instance, Abdulla Al-Othman created a sound installation entitled Sound of The Desert (2018), where he recorded a performance whilst listening to found footage sounds of the desert, in different locations. Omar Abduljawad’s Thuluth (2018) is more tactile, as he created a giant structure made of sandstone, painted steel tube and paint on etched laser. Acting as an immersive sculpture, the viewer can step inside and take refuge. There are also video works by emerging artist Aziz Jamal, who guides the viewer through grainy footage which he likens to the process of remembering.
Zamakan: Notions of Time and Space runs until 26 October. To book tickets, click here.