Bid'ah (Fallacy) - The lack of coexistence with people from different communities and spiritual affiliations locks us away in isolation and reactionary retreat. It is only by allowing these links to be extended that communication can prosper and flow and understanding can be built.
Saudi artist Sami Al-Turki presents for the first time, works from his latest photographic series Barzakh', inspired by the artist's quest to find a home for himself in his own country. After having lived and studied abroad for a number of years, the artist made the decision to return and settle in his home country of Saudi Arabia, a desert country that mainly consists of nothing but empty land.
During the main move from nomadic living to urbanisation during the 70's, an entire generation of people built their homes on empty land. This tradition of building your dream home continues to this day and the cities are littered with house upon house of every different style of architecture imaginable, there are houses that look like the White House, others that look like a palace from the Arabian Nights, and even one that looks like a space ship, all testament to a land where your home constitutes your ultimate goal, and the realisation of your fantasy. With very little public life or outdoor activity, the majority of your life will be spent within those walls. Your home is your castle, of which you are king, and the ultimate shelter and protection that you can provide your family.
Hoping to follow in his father's footsteps, the artist returned hoping to purchase a plot of land in order to build just such a dream house, but found that many things had changed since his father's time. While land remains a plentiful commodity, it has become an almost entirely inaccessible one. Anywhere else in the world, land is acquired for the purposes of development. However, in Saudi Arabia, land is being traded as a commodity in itself; people only buy land in order to sell it again for a significant profit. The result is sky-rocketing prices and a substantial amount of prime empty and unused land that only the very rich can afford, as well as a rising housing crisis.
In 'Barzakh', an Arabic word that alludes to a state of in-between, a neither here not there, or even purgatory, the artist depicts unfinished architectural structures that are suspended amidst the clouds or surrounded by an alien land; an homage to a dream that is drifting farther and farther, not just out of his reach, but out of the reach of an entire generation and class of people. While appearing as a fanciful gesture, the work can also be seen as a stark depiction of mankind's capacity for greed, as the artist suggests that if it were possible to own the sky, and to build walls declaring that ownership, mankind would.
Furthermore, by removing these structures from their usual context and placing them in the heavens, the artist is using the unlikelihood of the image to remind us that despite all our earthly wealth and possessions, these things will not accompany us into the hereafter, thus putting into perspective the absurdity of fighting over grains of sand in a land of abundance and where land is abundant.
Sami Al Turki
Ayman Yossri Daydban
16-18 September, 2013