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This Saudi Female Artist Is Selected For An International Digital Residency

Alaa Tarabzouni (on the right) with another fellow female artist Afia Ben Taleb in her Riyadh studio.

Thirty year old Saudi artist, Alaa Tarabzouni, has been selected to partake in a prominent international digital arts residency this August. Riyadh based Tarabzouni has been selected to join “Making Marks: Connect ME Digital Residency,” which is a joint initiative by the Arab British Centre to connect the Gulf and the UK during the pandemic.  

The initiative connects artists from the UK with those in the GCC for them to collaboratively create works of art to convey how the digital space can connect people, namely artists, across the world. 

In August, Saudi artist, Alaa will be working on a collaborative piece with Irish artist, Ellie Niblock. The pair, who have never met in person, will take part in virtual workshops, and will be mentored over the course of the month by visiting artists.

Tarabzouni’s personal works explore urban landscapes and built up environments and is inspired and influenced by her own academic education and architecture. She said, “I got the chance to explore in multiple disciplines, especially while I was pursuing my master’s degree at Pratt Institute in New York, which is an amazing liberal arts school with great facilities for experimentation.” Alaa, is a trained architect and has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture from Newcastle University in England. 

In a statement about the project, the female Saudi artist said, “Being a part of the Making Marks digital residency is so exciting. The residency comes at a time when it is not purely reactive to the physical limitations brought about by the pandemic. Rather, the format for the residency is extremely thoughtful and fits so well with the conscious use of technology to transcend borders and allow for cultural exchange. My practice is not digitally driven, but is very much in relation to context and places/place making."

She also spoke about her collaboration with Niblock, “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to challenge myself and to be paired with a UK-based artist. It allows for us both to expand our horizons and to explore different mediums in our collaboration. The format of the residency is extremely compelling and the size is appropriate because it is a pilot residency program.” 

In order for both Alaa and Ellie to work coherently, the pair meet one another via video calls and messaging and for Tarabzouni, it is important that her British counterpart is understanding of her Saudi Arabian heritage, “I recently sent Ellie a package that contains found objects from Saudi Arabia that will be incorporated into the piece of work we are developing together,” said Alaa. 

“Bait Al-Wurud” is the name of Tarabzouni’s most recent work displayed at Durational Portrait at Athr Gallery in Jeddah and The Quest for Our Next Concern in Riyadh. 

Alaa has also shown her work AL-SOM at Public/Private, the 2019 summer show of 21,39 in Jeddah and in 2019, alongside Afia Bin Taleb, she co-curated the group show POACHED which was a progressive exhibition of emerging artists alongside prominent artists.

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