Beirut is hosting Menasart-Fair 2011, July 13-16. This unique gathering of artists from across the MENASA region (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) reflects global and regional trends, particularly the rise of Saudi artists on the world scene.
For the first time, Saudi Arabia took part in this year’s La Biennale di Venezia with an extraordinary, monumental installation “The Black Arch” by sisters Raja and Shadia Alem. Likewise, Saudi Arabia is the guest of honor at this year’s Menasart-Fair with “Nabatt: A Sense of Being,” an exceptional exhibition of Saudi contemporary art curated by Reem Al-Faisal, a renowned photographer and Lulwah Al-Homoud, an independent curator, artist and art consultant based in London.
Saudi artist Fahad Al Gethami is showing two new art projects for the first time. The first project titled “On-line” is a printed work on stick paper composed of four pieces. It represents the picture of a camel with a satellite dish and sound equipment placed on its back. The artist presents his ideas using a mixture of media while highlighting one of the main features of the environment: The camel. The fixed state of the camel contrasted by the changing communications tools, underlines the irony and originality of the picture.
The other project is a video art titled “Past Tense Act.” This video short can be extended for long intervals without a definite end decided by spectators:
“The act is in the past, but it is a continuous past, although this type of verbs doesn’t exist in Arabic language, but it can be captured through art,” explains Mr. Al Gethami.
“Past Tense” shows a person washing his hands, then wondering whether he has really washed his hands so he repeats the act of washing his hands again and again, each time at a different speed with unexpected camera angles, accompanied by continuous and eerie sound effects that haunt the viewers and keep them watching the video over and over again:
“It is a past act because time has elapsed between the moment of the show and the moment of viewing and time has also elapsed between the shooting and showing, the act and the show” says Mr. Al Gethami.
Mahdi Al Jeraibi, one of the most influential artists in the contemporary art scene is launching “Points,” a new art project.
An installation in space, “Points” is composed of seven mechanical honing machines (hand operated machines traditionally used to hone metals). Each machine is placed on a 120 cm long iron holder, on a base fixed to the ground and placed on a 8m long red carpet.
“I made my points, these points have the capacity for movement and action; each point has its own coordinates which make their existence a non synchronous act. The points are moved by a circular plate, standing like a signal while the circles widen. I place the seven pieces of equipment as points or dots which mean the end of the discourse, encouraging a return to read the contents of the world that produced these machines and used them. The points are products with no expiry dates, thus their ability to act and create are limitless. Points are a project exploring time, the time of the act itself not the lived or experienced time. It explores the difference between them, between synchronous and asynchronous,” explains Mr. Al Jeraibi
He maintains that the independence of the artist is the only available space to achieve his aesthetic and artistic vision, no matter how rough or long the road may be. Mr. Al Jeraibi considers the street as his studio and workshop. He prefers to start anew every time instead of lingering on past achievements such as “Jadal.” This outstanding and controversial project was considered during the last ten years as one of the most important Saudi artwork. “Jadal” was shown at Christie’s auction in Dubai 2009, before 14 pieces were sold in Abu Dhabi.
Menasart-Fair 2011 reflects the explosion of art on the world scene with its unbelievable price inflation that seems to set new records by the month. Auction house Christie’s new chief executive, Steven P. Murphy formulates his theory about the increasing value and importance of art:
“I think that the virtual world, the ease of access to images in high definition, the total availability of art online, all those things have increased the value of the object itself… And with this shift of power from west to east, the financial markets being upside down, the Internet upending industries, this sense of anxiety which is prevalent, all of that is a kind of soup, that has made people run toward objects, and toward art.”
The iconic Saudi artist, Dia Aziz Dia, has monitored the development of the art scene in the Kingdom: “It has progressed with giant steps in the last forty years. In fact, Jeddah is considered the center of art activities in both contemporary art exhibitions and city sculptures. Saudis appreciate contemporary art to a considerable extent and are also collecting works.”
Dia Aziz Dia is showing at “Nabatt” two oils representing a dramatic phase in his life. These powerful works exude a tremendous energy which echoes the vibrancy and power of the contemporary art exhibited in “Nabatt.” This new aesthetic, this formidable new energy overruns the pavilion, carrying in its thrall a message of beauty, inspiration and hope.
(From Arab News: http://arabnews.com/)