Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath of Art Reoriented, this 4th edition is designed as an educational platform that explores the notion of travel and movement as a vehicle for learning and growth. Conceived as both a public forum for creative experimentation, as well as a visual arts exhibition, Safar will feature artworks and creative projects, mostly new commissions, by 45 artists, 25 of whom are young, emerging artists from Saudi Arabia. Over a period of six months, more than 50 events will take place featuring workshops, presentations and film screenings by a host of local, regional and international artists and creatives.
The Arabic word for travel safar has its roots in the word saafer, a term that is used to describe things that are revealed, or unveiled. Instead of simply designating a process of movement from one site to another, the Arabic word safar implies a process of discovery and exploration by which things are revealed to the traveler leading to added knowledge of self, of the other, of the places that were left behind and the places that were arrived at.
1. safar - The Exhibition / al-ma’ard
In emphasizing this multilayered notion of travel, and the process of discovery that it entails, safar the exhibition, has been conceived as a manifestation of constant motion across five venues spread across the city of Jeddah and beyond: a popular shopping mall, a 1970s former royal palace, a 19th century abandoned woman’s shelter in the city’s historic quarter, and KAEC (King Abdullah Economic City) . In the same way that travel necessitates movement, the exhibition will require its visitors to move around its five sites, discovering different neighborhoods within and beyond the city and the respective narratives that continue to unfold within them. Each of these distinct locations symbolizes a main sphere of activity within the complex social fabric of Jeddah. The act of traveling from one exhibition destination to another traces the routes taken by the people of the city as they go about their daily routines.
safar equally explores the fascinating journeys that the five exhibition venues have undergone through time. They each have served certain purposes at particular moments. Some have moved on to cater for new functions. Others have been frozen until they were reactivated when chosen as one of the exhibition venues. Through works that respond to the story and architecture of each of these diverse sites, as well as to the notion of movement and change through time at large, the exhibition safar cites the existing narratives surrounding these spaces and traces the possibility of new overlapping ones resulting in a cross temporal, non-linear charting of histories that reflect the vibrant energy through which artistic practices in Jeddah have been a tool through which the city continues to be re-imagined by its artistic and creative community.
The exhibition will open on February 1, 2017 and stay on view until May 2017.
2. safar – The Forum / al-muntada
In further exploring this notion of travel/unveiling, the exhibition safar is equally conceived as a platform for the exchange of ideas comprising a series of ongoing workshops, artist talks and presentations and film screenings. These will take place within the “Forum”, a designated, purpose-built, multi-functional educational space envisioned as the pulsing heart of the exhibition. The Forum consists of four main activities:
The Forum Lounge / al-majlis: The lounge is the physical place inside the Saudi Art Council’s exhibition space in the mall, where the art platform, workshops and ongoing program take place. It is designed as a creative hub that is available for young creatives to meet and network before and throughout the exhibition duration.
The Forum Workshop / al-mashghal: The workshops are designed to replicate core elements of a foundational curriculum in studio arts, aimed at the creative community in Jeddah. They include a 12-week long, skill-driven drawing and painting classes, as well as theoretical, two-day workshops, in art history, principles of design, typography, photography and curatorial practice.
The Forum Art Platform / al-minassah: A three-day series of artist talks, portfolio reviews, panel discussions and presentations by international and local arts-professionals scheduled during the opening days of the Jeddah Arts Week (February 1 to 4) marking the launch of the 2017 edition of Jeddah 21, 39. These will be open to the general public.
The Forum Art Encounters / al-multaqah: A series of alternating bi-weekly screenings of the art documentary Art 21 followed by group discussions and bi-weekly presentations by local artists and local creatives both included in the exhibition or simply based in various cities across Saudi Arabia. They are designed as a tool for engaging the creative community in a productive discourse about each other’s practices.
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