At Jeddah’s Qasr Khuzam, Argentina art event BIENALSUR enthralls with sight, sound and shadow
December 3, 2021 - Arab News by Saleh Fareed
The exhibition titled ‘Echoes: A World Between Analogue & Virtual’ is composed of immersive works, which play with the visitors’ shadows, the echo of their voices, and the reverberations of the surrounding sounds. (Supplied)
BIENALSUR 2021, the second edition of the cultural event of contemporary art from Argentina to the world, arrived in Jeddah, and residents are in for a breathtaking cultural experience.
Twenty artists from 13 countries are showcasing their work at the exhibit that opened its doors on Dec. 1 at Qasr Khuzam. Hosted by the Ministry of Culture, the exhibition titled “Echoes: A World Between Analogue & Virtual” is composed of immersive works, which play with the visitors’ shadows, the echo of their voices, and the reverberations of the surrounding sounds.
Qasr Khuzam served as the first residence in Jeddah for King Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The palace is characterized by its unique architectural style featuring art nouveau and art deco influences, with large entry halls and symmetrical staircases succeeded by interconnected wings. These attributes serve as a striking backdrop for the exhibition, addressing the acoustic phenomena of echo and reverberation, utilizing them as metaphors for how people naturally move in the world between analog and virtual situations.
With more than 30 works by artists being showcased, including five by Saudis, the display deals with themes ranging from environmental awareness, artistic politics to transit and migrations.
Organized by the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires under the direction of its rector and passionate art collector, Aníbal Jozami, and the event’s creative director, Diana Wechsler, the second edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of South America was based on a global network of institutional collaboration that erases distances and borders, as well as upholding singularity in diversity.
Both Wechsler and Jozami told Arab News that its presence in Saudi Arabia is part of the dialogues for peace and international integration through art and culture, which BIENALSUR contributes to.
It will be the first time that an exhibition of visual arts, designed to converge with other ways of thinking, is presented to the Saudi public.
“We want to change the art map of the world, the paradigms. We believe that there are cultural and artistic expressions that have always remained,” said Jozami. “BIENALSUR is the proof that there’s still space for surprising and innovative ideas.”
Wechsler added: “The exhibition seeks to convey to the viewer a reflection on this way of inhabiting the present. This varied selection of artists and works aim to recreate such a flow of the contemporary individual from a poetic dimension.
“We invite visitors to explore spaces that are not fully acknowledged and to identify images that will arouse surprise and reflection.”
The exhibition “recovering stories, recovering fantasies” occupied most parts of the restored Jeddah Regional Museum architecture building — considered one of the best museums in Jeddah — with works by Saudi artists Ahaad Al-Amoudi, Lina Gazzaz, Felwa Nazer, Muhannad Shono, and Daniah Alsaleh.
There are also works by Tony Oursler and Chris Larson from the US, Darren Almond from Britain, Argentina’s Matilde Marin; Carola Zech, Hugo Aveta, from Spain. Daniel Canogar and Tanja Demanrom will feature from Croatia. From Switzerland, there is Sève Favre, and from Mexico, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Polish artist Angelika Markul will attend alongside French artists Anais Lelievre, Cecile Bart, and photographer Valérie Jouve. From South Korea there’s Sujin Lim, and Joel Andrianomearisoa from Madagascar.
Among all those international artists, Darren Almond’s work offers two altered modalities of one of the latest ways to display hours as a mode of expressing time digital clocks.
Saudi artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi tries to understand the correlation between light and darkness through her video. “In the piece itself, I am studying how sometimes light is projected to us whether through family or friendships or personal needs and how we stripe toward the light,” she said.
Al-Amoudi introduces the premises that give rise to her video installation, which are focused on how information is shared and at the same time defines us as subjects in society.
South Korean artist Sujin Lim explores the dimensions of change in the natural environment and, along with it, the landscape on another horizon from another island.
While entering her dark exhibition room, Saudi artist Lina Gazzaz’s project “Shadow/Light Room” explores and seeks to capture the action of light on the elements to activate ideas from these lights in different manners.
“The room is part of a larger study that includes different artistic applications such as glass, sculpture, drawings, prints and experiments are still ongoing. The room also is arranged according to the echo system between the 40 images and the number of woods around 2,000 slow careful movements which is part of the experience,” she said.
The exhibitions travel the world to countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay, and others.