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Some Of The Best Exhibits From The Jeddah Islamic Arts Biennale

A few pieces from the first IAB, which is on display in Jeddah until April 23.

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‘The Holy Land’

Sultan bin Fahad
In this mixed-media installation, commissioned for the biennale, Sultan bin Fahad of Saudi Arabia honors the objects or souvenirs bought by pilgrims in the two holy towns of Makkah and Madinah. The remnants of a long-gone economy are represented by thermos flasks, prayer mats, bottles, and tins that are all painted in the manner of their respective nations of origin.

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‘Amongst Men’

Haroon Gunn-Salie
The South African artist’s installation is a reproduction of the burial of South African Muslim cleric and anti-apartheid activist Imam Abdullah Haron. The hung casts, which stand in for the mourners, invite spectators to join in commemoration of Haron, who passed away in police detention in 1969.

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‘Maintaining the Sacred’

Dima Srouji
The artwork by the Palestinian architect and artist serves as a reminder of the Israeli military's invasion of Jerusalem's Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount). Thirty of the colorful glass windows that decorate the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque were broken by the military; it would reportedly take 15 years to restore the damage. The practice is a disappearing art with few remaining practitioners. The composition was made “in honor of the history of craft, the worshippers seeking a connection with the spiritual world despite the fragility of the space, and of the bodies protecting our public space.”

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‘Letters in Light, Lines We Write’

Muhannad Shono
The work of the self-taught Saudi interdisciplinary artist explores themes of good versus evil, spirituality, and belonging by frequently contrasting light with darkness. In order to influence the viewer's thinking, he previously stated that he is drawn to making art that "disrupts everyday living," and this large-scale piece, which makes use of thread, steel, and light projection, is both calming and stimulating.

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‘The River Remembers’

Kamruzzaman Shadhin
The installation created by the Bangladeshi artist for the biennale is motivated by tales that were told to him as a youngster, tales of relocation of his grandparents and neighbor Johura Begum. According to a statement, these tales influenced the artist's imagination and gave rise to a peculiar yearning for locations he had never seen. The several veils in the artwork are weaved using a customary method known as shika, a tequnique practiced by Begum. “Using the powerful imagery of rivers to suggest the unseen forces that can direct the course of our lives, this very personal work speaks eloquently of migration, ecology, and, most of all, of dislocation and homecoming,” according to a statement.

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