Safar

Safar marks the 4th edition of Jeddah 21, 39, an annual program of special exhibitions, workshops and educational forums, in various locations throughout the city of Jeddah. Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, it is conceived as both a public forum for creative experimentation, as well as a visual arts exhibition. Entitled safar—the Arabic word for travel—the multifaceted program explores the notion of travel and movement as a vehicle for learning and growth. The Arabic word for travel, safar, is rooted in the word sāfer—a term that is used to describe things that are revealed, or unveiled. Rather than simply describing movement from one site to another, safar implies a process of discovery and exploration by which things are revealed to the traveler—added knowledge of self, of others, of the places that were left behind and the places that were arrived at.

The theme of safar was also present in the lead up to the 4th edition. Six emerging Saudi artists took part in a yearlong mentorship program organized by the curators. As part of this, they went on two international study trips to Berlin and Korea, and subsequently created special commissions for the exhibition.

Safar consists of two main components:

The Exhibition (al-maarad)
February 1 – May 6, 2017

The Exhibition (al-maarad)
This takes place across three venues in Jeddah: The Mall (al-mol), Al Shate’a District’s Gold Moor mall; The Home (al-manzil), a 19th century abandoned woman’s shelter in the city’s historic quarter; and The City (al-madinah), the fast-growing King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). Each venue hosts site-specific installations that respond to the historical and contemporary narratives of each space.

The Mall (al-mol)
This features all new commissions by 16 emerging Saudi artists, spanning painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, film, graffiti and mixed media installations. The installation of these works within the mall reflects the significance of such public places to Jeddah’s social fabric, thereby serving as a metaphor for the present. Each work, in turn, echoes the conceptual framework of safar.

The Home (al-manzil)
The second part of safar occupies an abandoned 19th century women’s shelter known as Al-khunji Al–kabir. It hosts a monumental site-specific installation by Abdullah Al-Othman. The artist has wrapped the entire Al-Khunji Al-Kabir, a 19th century women’s shelter, with thousands of meters of tin foil. Through Al-Othman’s intervention, the entire structure stands out from the midst of the neighboring houses vividly reminding dwellers and visitors alike, of the historical layers of the city, and the beauty of its traditional architecture, inviting them to embark on safar through time and place.

The City (al-madinah)
The City (al-madinah), the fast-growing King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), features a series of 8 immersive film and media installations by leading international artists, marking the first exhibition of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Each of the works explores the curatorial concept of safar from a distinct point of view, ranging from personal journeys to the crossing of temporal and physical terrains. The featured works are: Douglas Gordon’s Play Dead; Real Time (2003); William Kentridge’s Tango for Page Turning (2012-13); Shirin Nehsat’s Rapture (1999); Hans Op de Beeck’s Staging Silence (2) (2013); Giuseppe Penone’s Rovesciare I propri occhi / To reverse one’s eyes (1970); Anri Sala’s 1395 Days without Red (2011); Ho Tzu Nyen’s 2 or 3 Tigers (2015); and Yang Fudong’s Yejiang / The Nightman Cometh (2011).

The Forum (al-muntada)
December 2 – May 6, 2017

The Forum (al-muntada) is a program of ongoing workshops, artist talks and presentations, and film screenings that takes place over the course of six months, fostering connections between local artists, designers and the Saudi public. Programs include: The Workshop (al-mashghal), a series of two 12-week courses and six weekend seminars open to the creative community in Jeddah, designed to replicate core elements of foundational curriculum in studio arts; The Art Platform (al-minassah), a three-day series of artist talks, panel discussions and presentations by international and local arts professionals during the opening days of 21,39; and Encounters (al-multaqah), a series of alternating bi-weekly screenings of art documentaries, and group discussions and presentations by Saudi cultural practitioners. All of these activities will take place in The Lounge (al-majlis), a physical space in Gold Moor mall designed as a creative hub that is available for young creatives to meet and network throughout the exhibition duration.

Artists: Sara Abdu, Bayan Abdullateef, Manal Al-Dowayan, Mohammad Al-Faraj, Marwah Al-Mugait, Reem Al-Nasser, Moath Al-Ofi, Abdullah Al-Othman, Nasser Al-Salem, Ahmad Angawi, Majid Angawi, Dana Awartani, Hans Op de Beeck, Yang Fudong, Douglas Gordon, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, Giuseppe Penone, Anri Sala, and Ho Tzu Nyen.

Exhibition Catalogue

English/Arabic Edition
Safar
Edited by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath
Saudi Art Council, 2017, 218 pages