The cracks, tears, and disruptions of our times have collapsed into digitized flat worlds that are embroiled in subjective interpretations of truths, with little time to hold space for the daily onslaught of cold numbers that creep silently closer to our homes. How do we make sense of a world that is weighed down with uncertainty, loss and distance? In Sara Abdu’s exhibition, “I Only Meant To Visit”, the artist invites the viewer into a meditative and poetic process of reconciliation and remembrance.

Sara’s melancholic figures are animated for the first time and narrate a reflexive journey of the self. The film recalls moments of departure that are inspired by the dance of birds who bid farewell to the prophet Dawood upon his passing, drawing upon the common anthropomorphized symbol as metaphor for journey, the self and reunion. 

The film leads into a collection of works and environments that reorient our sense of self to the world by re-examining our relationship with memory. Through sensorial stimuli, the artist organizes subtle confrontations with our own sense of mortality, the past, and the fleeting nature of remembering. Her large abstract line drawings in Anatomy of Remembrance are cartographic depictions of past times and condense funeral rituals with olfactory and memory technologies. The obscure temporariness of our memories, and the grace and gift of forgetting are stitched together in her large tapestry work, You See, Certainty doesn’t Stutter. In See You Forever, the artist obliterates scarce material brought from her family home in Aden, testing the limits of memory by removing trappings of the past to assemble new memories and trigger new beginnings.

In working through sensorial mnemonic triggers and tangible objects as composites or sites of memory, Sara offers us a rational structure of temporality. Gesturing memory and forgetting as important constituents of our inner selves, and their transient nature as means to resolve and reconcile with the world around us.


About the Curator:

Maryam Bilal is a curator based in Melbourne, Australia and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Since 2010, she has worked closely with Saudi contemporary arts organizations, institutions and commercial galleries. As an Artists Liaison and Curator at ATHR, she led several prominent exhibitions including: 1101: A Social Experiment, Letters, 18 Blankets, Wish you Were Here and Children of Yamn. She is currently experimenting with exhibition making modals; in collaborative and reciprocal forms, the affect of the art imperative within the emergent and rapid Saudi art making era.