Black Arch

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Jul 26 2015


Category: Europe, Italy

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It happened at the 2011 biennale in Venice. For the first time Saudi Arabia was represented here in a space of its own. And, even more surprising, the work of art on show was made by two women, the sisters Shadia and Raja Alem.

DSC00547 The Black Arch - Venice 2011 blogcolumn

Modern art from Saudi Arabia made by women? It’s nice to get one’s prejudices undermined or at least nuanced in such a surprising way.

Their installation ‘The Black Arch’ is inspired by the yearly influx of pilgrims into Mecca during Haj, when an endless stream of believers circumambulates the Ka’aba.

DSC00548 The Black Arch -c- blogsize

It is true, the Alem sisters are not just like any Saudi women. They come from an old family in Mecca, but now live a free and unconventional life partly in Jeddah, partly in Paris.

And the Iraqi artist of last week’s post, Halim Al Karim, having experienced his own horrors during the regime of Saddam Hussein, is now making his art while living in the USA.

Still, getting confronted with contemporary art originating from the Arab world, is a welcome surprise.

Photos of the week: Installation The Black Arch by Raja and Shadia Alem (Saudi Arabia), Venice Biennale, Italy 2011

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