Jowhara Al Saud : Your Friends and Neighbors


Sultan Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of ’Your Friends and Neighbors’, a solo show by New York-based Saudi artist, Jowhara Al Saud.

” As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.” – Susan Sontag

The images created by Jowhara Al Saud speak of the careful nature and character embedded in Middle Eastern society, especially in the Gulf Corporation Council, where public projection is a precarious issue. Her manner of addressing censorship reveals how arbitrary these regulations (supposedly standard) are, and consequently the psychological repercussions this has on people on a more social level.

The body of work being exhibited in Sultan Gallery began as an exploration of censorship in Saudi Arabia. For Jowhara Al Saud it was about understanding the effects of censorship on visual communication and social cohesion (or lack thereof). But it wasn’t long before this exploration of censorship evolved into a study of empirical human interaction, thus turning her work into a “cataloguing” of how telling and familiar small gestures and fleeting moments can be. Sort of like the shy apologetic smile you exchange with a stranger when you accidentally bump into one another on the street, or that awkward moment when two people reach for the same thing at the same time and touch without meaning to. It is precisely this arbitrariness that is played up in her artwork, which appropriates the language of occultation by applying it to her own personal photographs in pseudo-self-censorship:

‘I began making line drawings, omitting faces and skin. Keeping only the essentials preserved the anonymity of my subjects. This allowed me to simultaneously circumvent, and comment on, some of the cultural taboos associated with photography. Namely the stigma attached to bringing the ‘personal portrait’, commonly reserved for the private domestic space, into a public sphere.”

How much can you tell with so little? This question has long been the polemical issue of representation, and thus Sultan Gallery invites you to explore revelation vis-à-vis representation through the work of Jowhara Al Saud on Tuesday, October 19th 2010 from 7 to 9 pm.