With 4500 kilometers separating them, during their collaboration Meshal Al-Obaidallah (SA) and Carolin Schnurrer (UK) were only able to perceive each other’s cultures through lenses. This led to a digital exchange of memories, rituals, ideas, and anecdotes.
Meshal’s practice is very much grounded in his own geographic locale, by archiving current affairs of his region. Carolin’s practice is at a more primal sensory level, establishing connections that surpass the limits of borders, culture, language, and other categories of exclusion. Together, they seek to recalibrate your perception of ‘the other’ culture. In their work, FAREWELL ARABIA: A Bold New Vision, they explore the Arabian Peninsula through the lenses of orientalism (externally) and provincialism (internally). How is ‘the other’ perceived from a distance?
FAREWELL ARABIA: A Bold New Vision is centred around an old post-colonial British documentary, set in the Arabian Peninsula of the previous century. In the documentary, the narrator tells of the sudden development of Arabia, in the wake of the oil boom, its impact on society, and the uncertain future. Similarly, FAREWELL ARABIA: A Bold New Vision recycles history to tell of the current changing landscape, urban rezoning, and the colossal giga-projects. Who does this culture belong to? Who is it changing for? What kind of culture will be left?
Through their exchange, Meshal and Carolin collected found footage, sound bites, quotes, symbols, and other fragments. These reappropriated fragments were processed, destroyed, accelerated, decelerated, and rearranged. This mishmash of fact and fiction prompts a not-so-new understanding of the region. With a focus on audio and text, the collage is presented as a story on an experimental website, narrated by an inhuman voice.
FAREWELL ARABIA: A Bold New Vision is a digital experience that reinforces today’s repetition of dominant narratives from the distant past—the oblivious looping of past and future histories.
Meshal Al-Obaidallah was born in Washington, DC and is currently based in Riyadh, and originally from Qassim.
Meshal began as a visual artist in 2014, as an experimental mode of archiving narratives. Through cultural artifacts, his conceptual works document current issues and affairs of Saudi Arabia, revealing the underlying power structures.
In 2016, he won at the 4ᵗʰ International Emerging Artist Award in Dubai. Since then, his works have evolved into series, covering the geopolitical landscape of the Arab world and the region in general. These works have been exhibited across the Gulf region and outside the region—such as in the UK and the US. His ongoing Shimagh Series centres around the question, “What does it mean to be an Arab today?”. The complete series was acquired by Greenbox Museum in Amsterdam, as part of its permanent on-display collection.
In 2019, after a hiatus in artmaking, he delved into curation. ṣiyāḡah (صياغة) is his debut curatorial project, informed by the new direction in his artistic practice. ṣiyāḡah is a demonstrative exploration of typography, illustration, and narratives. In 2020, the outcome of the project was the 2-location 3-month-long namesake group art exhibition, ṣiyāḡah, at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. The exhibition included over 100 works—from established artists to emerging local artists—along with a separate pop-up space for art installations.
Most recently, to further develop his artistic/curatorial practice, he was a recipient of the Maan grant from Athr Gallery, and he was selected for the upcoming Art Residency | Albalad in Jeddah by the Ministry of Culture.
Carolin Schnurrer is a London-based artist and designer, producing sensory experiences with a variety of media, from sound performance and installation to moving image. Her work explores how human bodies connect on a primal haptic level and how we can use them to establish connections that surpass the limits of borders, culture, language, and other such categories of exclusion.
She was appointed as an artist in residence at Haroon Mirza’s studio, hrm199, collaborated with Klein at Serpentine Park Nights and has performed regularly with the Research Group AUDINT at national and international events, like Tate Lates and MIRA Festival Barcelona. Her work has been performed and exhibited at the Yard Theatre, ACCA Melbourne, the Barbican and Ø – a monthly night curated by the label Hyperdub at Corsica Studios.
Carolin is a graduate from the Royal College of Arts, has a background in Digital Product Design and facilitates workshops with community-based organisations like the Baytree Center.
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