Archive for December, 2010

Manal Al Dowayan : And We Were Speaking Through Silence


Saudi Arabian lens-based artist Manal Al-Dowayan explores the state of solitude within shared spaces and the loss and reinforcement of identity within this state of isolation. The second artist-in-residence at Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, Al-Dowayan joined The Arts Residency program in May 2010 and will remain in residence until the end of November 2010. We Had No Shared Dreams is the culmination of this residency.

In her latest series of work she explores how local demographic changes and global activities are experienced on a personal level.  Although ‘local’ and ’global’ can be worlds apart for some, in reality, they form a single conversation with multiple translations. On a personal level she explores the impact of the veil on women, a cloth that can erase an identity of the person wearing it, but can place a woman comfortably among a homogenous community of like-minded individuals that reinforce their identity with the veil. The solitude felt from behind the veil is ignored at the expense of the empowerment of a group.

Al-Dowayan also explores the unique rapid demographic change that her country has experienced in the past decade: On average, Saudi Arabian cities have witnessed a 30 per cent rise in their population. This has, obviously, had an impact on its individuals and communities, as many struggle to preserve their identity through self imposed isolation. Simultaneously, Al-Dowayan shifts from the local to the global – exploring our sense of belonging in a world that has become increasingly Islamophobic, racist, and fanatical; here too, we see many in self-imposed seclusion. In her in-depth depiction of solitude and the search for identity, Al-Dowayan incorporates major elements that have become prevalent tools of survival; the satellite dish is one of those tools.

In this body of work, Al-Dowayan continues the dialogue that she started with Landscapes of the Mind, a stunning collection developed in 2009, in which she explored the notion of a landscape in conflict with itself and the impact that space can have on the development of identity at the individual level. We Had No Shared Dreams builds on this with a graphic dialogue with defined characters: the city and its inhabitant.

Following the success of Landscapes of the Mind and previous series such as I Am and The Choice, Al-Dowayan decided to make art her full time vocation, a career choice Cuadro is proud to support. The Arts Residency at Cuadro will provide Al-Dowayan with the necessary skills to enable her to further develop her artistic practice. Al-Dowayan follows Alex De Fluvia’s residency, which culminated with De Fluvia’s highly successful exhibition Writing in the Sand, which opened at Cuadro Fine Art Gallery in March 2010 and coincided with Art Dubai.