‘We Are Not Alone’ Exhibition Opens At Athr Gallery


Saudi Gazette

Contemporary Collective, a group of six Saudi curators which aims to bring communities together through art, opened it’s first-ever exhibition, ‘We Are Not Alone’, last week at the Athr Gallery in Jeddah.

More than 500 attendees gathered to support the next generation of Saudi curators and view art that has never been seen in Saudi Arabia before. On display is art by renowned British artists that include Damien Hirst, Shirazeh Houshiary, Rachel Whiteread and Cornelia Parker.

“We are aiming for showing the Saudi society through contemporary art the feelings we are all sharing as humans no matter where we are coming from. We want to prove through art that even if we come from different cultures, we are still the same and going through similar struggles of life. This is actually what we are referring to by ‘We Are Not Alone’,” said Dalia Fatani, one of the exhibition’s curators and founder of Studio Lucha.

Organized by the British Council in partnership with Athr, ‘We Are Not Alone’ is now open until Thursday 16 November and is free to attend. The curators are utilizing unique artwork from the British Council Collection, one of the largest of its kind in the world, to create an open platform welcoming audiences of all ages in Saudi Arabia to create discussions and explore issues relevant to Saudi society.

Curator Reem Al-Jalhami said, “As curators, we chose those pieces because of many reasons. Firstly, they are related to the concept of the exhibition as a whole. Secondly, we also made sure to bring to Saudi society artworks from a long period of time. For instance, the oldest piece of art here is from 1989 and the newest piece is from 2017. We also made sure to include artworks with different techniques so Saudi society can get the chance to experience different arts.”

The exhibition opened in the presence of British Consul General Barrie Peach, Director of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts in Jeddah Dr Omar Al-Jaser and the owner of Athr Hamza Al-Serafi. They were joined by key members of a UK cultural delegation who are in the Kingdom as part of a week-long exchange for future UK-Saudi understanding and collaboration in arts and culture.

“We believe that this exhibition is unique because the British Council supported these six female Saudi curators to ensure bringing to Saudi Arabia some of the UK’s best artwork. We have been through this program and support for almost 18 months and today, we are very happy with the result of our collaboration,” said Mahmoud Mouselli, Director of Programs and Projects at the British Council.

One of the pieces on display is a wall drawing from celebrated British artist Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq who was also present at the opening. “I was expecting a conservative country but I quickly found a shared interest and common ground between my world in the UK and cultural circles in Jeddah,” said Ashfaq. “What struck me the most was the desire from cultural practitioners to keep cultural traditions from Jeddah and the area alive within the Holy Sites, across the education and culture sector and everyday life.”

‘We Are Not Alone’ is open now to the public, free of charge, and will run until 16 November 2017, at Athr, Serafi Mega Mall, Jeddah. For more information on the exhibition and watch the CONTEMPORARY COLLECTIVE’s ongoing journey, follow @ccollective.sa on Instagram and use #GetCurious to get involved in the conversation.