Gulf Update ‘The Distance From Here’ brings masterpieces to Jeddah’s Hayy Arts
JEDDAH: “The Distance From Here,” an exhibition showcasing different perceptions about space and time, is being held at Hayy Arts in Jeddah.
The exhibition, which will run until Oct. 25, brings together the artworks of 20 artists from Korea, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, the US, Britain and Syria.
“It is thinking about time and space, and as humans, the idea of our environment in the last few years through the pandemic and everything that has been happening. It’s really reflecting on this amazing shift that is taking place in Saudi in this great time for the art in the kingdom,” director of Art Jameel, Antonia Carter, told Arab News.
Hayy Arts, the museum element of Hayy Jameel, is hosting the event.
Carter added: “Here, we are very keen to really get exhibitions that will get everybody thinking. So, we will start with a concept and work with the artists that are very concept-driven.”
Each creative mind has chosen a different medium to metaphorically and physically express their message about space and time. The wide range of mediums includes textiles, videography, photography, painting, weaving and many others to encapsulate their ideas.
To create the exhibition, the artists were given both the theme and the total freedom to express their ideas through the medium of their choice. “I think that this is why we have such a proliferation of incredible media here across the whole show,” Carter said.
The exhibition also features artworks by Saudi artist Filwa Nazer.
Nazer is a Saudi visual artist who used textiles to create a piece called “Between the Neck and Shoulder,” a colorful installation hanging in the center of the exhibition. The fabric is cut out unevenly, with patches stitched to it. Each stitch is different and has a personal meaning to the artist.
She said: “Textile was the natural choice for me because of my background in fashion design, but also it is connected to my theme of exploring the relationship between our bodies and the spaces we inhabit as well as spaces of transitions.”
The artist revealed that a lot of research, writing and sketching was done before her creation came to life. “It is installed in a way that it can be closely looked at from all angles,” she explained.
Some of the most eye-catching artworks include “The Classroom” by Hicham Benohoud and the “Rubbing/Loving, STPI, Artist Studio 38, 41 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238236” by Do Ho Suh.
“The Classroom” is a set of pictures taken in a classroom in Marrakech, where most of the students in the background are studying, but some are shown posing in strange positions while they dress peculiarly.
Do Ho Suh had a much simpler approach to the artwork. He used the process of rubbing pastel colors to create a texture on paper as he wanted to rely on touch as well as the visual element.
Since “The Distance From Here” is a traveling exhibition, which came to Jeddah from Dubai, the curating team has worked to not only preserve the artworks but also the essence of the exhibition.
Rotana Shaker, the assistant curator, told Arab News: “A traveling exhibition has a different process and that process takes a few months. Once the exhibition in Dubai went up, we were already thinking about what was next and how will we adapt it into the new context.”
Carter said that collecting the works by the many different artists, adapting them to the space, and bringing it all to life is thrilling. The biggest satisfaction for the curators is seeing the crowd not only appreciate the artworks but also seeing themselves reflected in what was being shown on the walls of the gallery.
Carter explained that just from the name one can guess that Hayy Jameel is “devoted to the community.”
“At Art Jameel, we really believe that arts are for everyone and that no one should be excluded … so one of the greatest challenges and also one of the greatest achievements was to really reach out to the community as a whole.”