The Office of the Arts presents the first video art exhibition at KAUST

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November 28 – December 9, 2021
Campus Spine, outside the University Library

In conjunction with the inaugural KAUST Research Open Week (KROW) and this year’s theme of Sustainability, the Office of the Arts is delighted to unveil, for the first time in KAUST, a video art exhibition.

“Once relegated to alternative spaces because some didn’t believe it could even be called art, video is now seen in museums and galleries across the world and counts as one of the major mediums of our time.”1

Although, as a form of moving-image art, video art uses video technology as a visual and audio medium, one of the key differences between the former and cinema is that it does not necessarily adhere to the conventions that generally define theatrical cinema. It may not employ actors, dialogue and may have no discernible narrative or plot.

Throughout the 20th century, video art has attracted experimental and conceptual artists, performance artists, sound and process artists, and other avant-garde and cross-disciplinary practitioners. Now Saudi creatives have fully embraced the medium too.

As a two-person show, the Office of the Arts’ exhibition presents video artists Marwah AlMugait and Mohammad Alfaraj and their poetic explorations on the notion of Sustainability.

Marwah AlMugait (Saudi) “I lived Once”

In a large-scale video artwork, a powerful group of performers move and chant, recalling the reactive defense mechanisms of organisms in danger. Using the method of movement directing, the performance draws on the notion of biomimicry and how we can find inspiration in nature to create sustainable solutions for humanity.

Born in Al-Khobar, AlMugait lives and works in Riyadh. Following a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from King Saud University, she pursued a Master’s in Photojournalism at the University of Westminster (UK).

Concerned with questions of tension, discordance and harmony, AlMugait’s work has been exhibited at Noor Riyadh Festival (2021); 21,39 Jeddah Arts (2020); The Arab American National Museum, USA (2017); Naila Art Gallery, Riyadh (2015); Inlight Studio, Canada (2014); Emerge Art Fair, USA (2014); Abu Dhabi Art, UAE (2012) and the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, UK (2012).

“I Lived Once” recently won an award at the prestigious Fine Art Film Festival in Venice (Italy).

Mohammad Alfaraj (Saudi) “The Glass Between Us”

Born in Al-Ahsa, a secluded oasis in Eastern Saudi, which has fueled his interest in nature and ecology and his multidisciplinary artistic practice, Mohammad Alfaraj intends to present a world charged with stories and tension between the roots of belonging and tradition, and the wings of modernity and progress.

In his video art, combining fiction and non-fiction themes, Alfaraj employs saturated sight and sound and often reuses found materials, both natural and manufactured. Committed to social and environmental activism, his work seeks states of coexistence between man, nature, and other beings.

About “The Glass Between Us” Alfaraj writes: “If we look long and intently enough at the passing moment as though we were experiencing it for the first time, would this enable us to see the unusual and to go beyond the moment itself, so that a metaphorical idea behind it reveals itself to us? To record with a steady camera and to study it as though we were looking through a glass that separates us from what we are experiencing? Would it be like a glass between us and nature and what lies beyond it, allowing us to put our present moment under the microscope?”

Alfaraj graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in 2017.

He has worked as programmer for the Saudi Film Festival and the Poetry House Festival, both in Dammam. He is now lending his programming talents to Tajreeb, an innovative presentation of experimental cinema, within the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival.

Alfaraj’s work has been exhibited at Le Murate Pac, Italy (2019); Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE (2019); Athr Gallery, Jeddah (2018); 21,39 Jeddah Arts (2017, 2019); the Saudi Film Festival, Dammam (2015) and Dubai International Film Festival (2014).

About the Office of the Arts

Under the umbrella of The Office of the Provost, the Office of the Arts consists of a visual and performing arts team with a mission to promote art, science and culture in KAUST, the Kingdom, and in the wider global context.

For further information, contact officeofthearts@kaust.edu.sa

1Alex Greenberger.– In Ambitious New Book, Curator Barbara London Charts Video Art’s Rise as One of Today’s Dominant Mediums.- ARTnews. – January 13, 2020

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