Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh

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RIYADH: Fenaa Alawwal has opened his latest exhibition, “Unfolding the Embassy,” which brings together artists from around the world to speculate on the future ahead.

Studio GGSV was responsible for the scenography and the exhibition curator was Sara Al-Mutlaq, whose first instinct was to respond to the context of the exhibition.

Al-Mutlaq told Arab News: “It is about the diplomatic quarter and the embassies… We ask: what is the future of the embassy?”

“We live in a time today where many things are changing. We feel it in technology, in ChatGPT, in the Ukraine war – there are many things that are changing.”

When visitors enter the room, they are teleported to the year 2040. A SpaceX satellite orbiting the Earth is the new reality, complete with a reception area, books and brochures. Visitors quickly realize that the decorative pieces around them are the works of art themselves.

As the story progresses, they ask themselves: What happened to the Earth?

The global experience was important to the curator; only artists with different backgrounds and practices could do justice to this collective narrative. Artists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Palestine, Bosnia, Zambia and Belgium participate in the exhibition, presenting their vision and interpretation of the future through works that address important contemporary issues such as climate change, artificial intelligence, migration and identity.

“I really wanted to work with Saudi creatives and artists, but also with Arab artists… while always involving the rest of the world and looking at the nuances of the conversations they are starting as well,” Al-Mutlaq explained.

Saudi artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi’s video installation “Frying Pan” delves into the past to explore the future, creating a place where memories are lost, adapted and reinterpreted.

The video questions the role of memory and navigational tools in an ever-changing world, and asks whether humans will be able to imagine a future in which the present is a crumbling past.

Egyptian graphic designer and artist Ahmad Hammoud presents two complementary works: “Flag of the Stateless” and “Passport of the Stateless”. Using the housefly as a symbol for the 10 million stateless people worldwide, the works contrast two “undesirable” elements, create a sense of ownership and symbolize strength and resistance to Western colonial views.

The exhibition also features a photo anthology with images by Dia Murad, Naif Al-Quba, Federico Acciardi and Peter Bogaczewicz.

The digital works by Bogaczewicz, a photographer with an architectural background, are part of his larger series titled “Surface Tensions,” which focuses on the interplay between the natural and built environments in Saudi Arabia.

His selection includes shots of a car buried in sand dunes and an abandoned Ferris wheel in the middle of a construction site, subtly reflecting the influence of his architectural background.

He told Arab News: “I think the Anthropocene is a theme of the exhibition. I think these photos fit into that theme because they address the state of the environment created or altered by humans. This is something completely unnatural and unique to our time. It is probably something that cannot be easily reversed… Natural environments are becoming increasingly difficult to find and that is just a fact of life on our planet.”

In addition, visitors can explore the fate of humanity in the context of climate change, changing political structures, economic challenges and the subversive interventions of AI in human life.

With a future-oriented approach, the exhibition raises a challenging question: Do humans need the distance of light years to be able to better see what is close at hand?

Al-Mutlaq said: “In essence, the exhibition is a fictional time-space that highlights the fictional properties of our economic, collective and technological worlds. In examining the role of fiction, the exhibition and its artists ask: in the depths of truth, do we find the landscape of the arbitrary?”

The exhibition, which runs until September 1, also features works by Dima Srouji, Abbas Zahedi, Aseel Al-Yaqoub, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Jerry Galle, PHI Studio and Lana Cmajcanin.

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