Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims

Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims
Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Fenaa Alawwal kicked off its most recent exhibition, “Unfolding the Embassy,” bringing together global artists to speculate on the looming future.

With scenography presented by Studio GGSV, the exhibition was curated by Sara Al-Mutlaq, whose initial instinct was to respond to the exhibition’s context.

Al-Mutlaq told Arab News: “The context is the Diplomatic Quarter and embassies … We ask: What is the future of the embassy?

“The moment that we’re living in today is witnessing a lot of changes. We feel it in technology, ChatGPT, the Ukraine war — there are a lot of things that are changing.”

As visitors enter the space, they are teleported to the year 2040. A SpaceX satellite orbiting the globe is the new reality, complete with a reception area, books, and brochures. Visitors soon realize that the decorative pieces around them are the artworks themselves.

As the story unfolds, they are left to wonder: What has happened to Earth?

The global experience was important for the curator; only artists of diverse backgrounds and practices could do justice to this collective narrative. Artists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Palestine, Bosnia, Zambia, and Belgium are taking part in the exhibition, presenting their vision and interpretation of the future through works that address important contemporary issues, such as climate change, artificial intelligence, migration, and identity.

“I really wanted to engage with Saudi creatives and artists, but also Arab artists … and to always include the rest of the world and look at the nuances of conversation that they’re also creating,” Al-Mutlaq explained.  

Saudi artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi’s “Frying Pan” video installation looks at the past to study the future, creating a place where memory is lost, readapted, and reinterpreted.

In an ever-changing world, the video questions the role of memory, the tools of navigation, and whether humans will be able to envision a future when the present is a disintegrating past.

Egyptian graphic designer and artist Ahmad Hammoud presents two complementary works: “Flag of the Stateless” and “Passport of the Stateless.” Using the common housefly as an emblem for the 10 million stateless individuals worldwide, the works contrast two “unwanted” elements, creating a sense of ownership and symbolizing strength and resistance to Western colonial views.

The exhibition also showcases a photography anthology created using images by Dia Murad, Naif Al-Quba, Federico Acciardi, and Peter Bogaczewicz.

The digital works by Bogaczewicz, a photographer with a background in architecture, are part of his larger series titled “Surface Tensions,” which focuses on how the natural and built environments come together in Saudi Arabia.

His selection includes captures of a car buried in sand dunes and an abandoned Ferris wheel amid construction, subtly reflecting the influence of his architectural background.

He told Arab News: “I think there’s an idea of Anthropocene being a theme of the exhibit. I think the way these photos fall into it is because they address a state of the man-made or man-altered environment. That is something completely unnatural and unique of our time. It’s probably something that can’t be reversed so purely … Natural environments are harder and harder to come by and that’s just a present fact of being on our planet.”

Visitors can also explore the fate of humanity in the context of climate change, shifting political structures, economic challenges, and AI’s subversive interventions in human life.

Adopting a forward-looking approach, the exhibition raises a challenging question: Do humans need the distance of light years to better see what is near?

Al-Mutlaq said: “At its essence, the exhibition is a fictional time-space that highlights the fictional attributes of our economic, collective and technological worlds. In exploring the role of fiction, the exhibition and its artists ask: At the depth of truth, do we find the landscape of the arbitrary?”

The exhibition, running until Sept. 1, also features works from Dima Srouji, Abbas Zahedi, Aseel Al-Yaqoub, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Jerry Galle, PHI Studio, and Lana Cmajcanin.

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