Six Saudi female curators are using art to bridge cultures together.
Launched in partnership with the British Council Collection, these six women opened “We Are Not Alone,” the curators’ first-ever exhibit on show at the Athr Gallery in Jeddah. The display spotlights art by renowned British artists, including Damien Hirst, Shirazeh Houshiary, Rachel Whiteread and Cornelia Parker.
“We are aiming [to show] Saudi society through contemporary art the feelings we are all sharing as humans no matter where we are coming from. We want to prove through art that even if we come from different cultures, we are still the same and going through similar struggles of life. This is actually what we are referring to by ‘We Are Not Alone’,” said Dalia Fatani, one of the exhibition’s curators
But the exhibit is more than just a display: it showcases the Kingdom’s efforts to empower Saudi citizens to engage in the issues relevant to Saudi Arabia’s ever-evolving society.
Using Art to Modernize Society
One of the visiting British artists, Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq, was surprised at what he saw upon his arrival to the Kingdom. “I was expecting a conservative country but I quickly found a shared interest and common ground between my world in the UK and cultural circles in Jeddah,” said Ashfaq.
Women using art to breakdown stereotypes is a continual trend in Saudi Arabia, as new art shows continue to empower men and women to challenge what it means to be a woman in the Middle East.
Indeed, economic and cultural modernization grounds Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan. Achieving this requires hands-on experiences with other cultures. Shows like We Are Not Alone allow Saudi citizens to experience outside cultures from their home country.
The British Consul General Barrie Peach and Dr. Omar Al-Jaser, the director of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, were among the attendees during the exhibition’s opening. A UK cultural delegation accompanied them, highlighting the rooted bilateral understanding surrounding the importance of collaborations in arts and culture.
“We believe that this exhibition is unique because the British Council supported these six female Saudi curators to ensure bringing to Saudi Arabia some of the UK’s best artwork,” said Mahmoud Mouselli, the director of programs and projects at the British Council. “We have been through this program and support for almost 18 months and today, we are very happy with the result of our collaboration.”
Read more at the Saudi Gazette.