Arab artists shine at Art Dubai 2022

The Saudi artist has experimented with a wide range of artistic mediums, from photography to installation. But, whatever the medium, her work often explores Arab women’s place in, and relationship with, society. 2005’s “The Choice” is a monochrome series of symbolic contrasts: For example, a woman dressed in traditional clothing holds a steering wheel, while another casts a vote at the ballot box. According to a statement made by the artist, the collection is “a dialogue that discusses the restrictions placed on women due to local traditions that have become entwined with religion and identity.” This beautifully shot image, “The Choice IV,” could be seen as an act of determination and defiance, or of aspiration: Does she have to choose between traditions and playing sports, or can both coexist? Like many of AlDowayan’s works, interpretations vary, generating a thought-provoking debate.

The Moroccan artist — who often incorporates Arabic calligraphy into his socio-political, concrete installations — created this new piece, “Khayali” (My Imagination), from rusted metal. It was inspired by Moroccan author Mohamed Choukri’s 1970s autobiographical book “For Bread Alone,” in which Choukri, who only learned to read and write aged 20, discussed the many challenges he had faced in his life, including poverty, imprisonment, and a famine that forced him and his family to flee their mountain village to Tangier. The material from which Akrim’s piece is both a symbol of crudeness and could also refer to his father’s work in the construction business. It consists of layers of Arabic text — one on top of another — taken from Choukri’s book: “I hate all of those who are like my father,” “I find refuge in my imagination” and “Say your word before you die.”

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