Firetti Contemporary Fifth Wife
Firetti Contemporary: The Fifth Wife
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The Firetti Contemporary gallery is currently holding The Fifth Wife, a group exhibition that features seven artists: the ARE studio, Jason Seife, Sawsan Al Bahar, Salmah Al Mansoori, Ghaleb Hawila, Khalid Zahid, and Aidha Badr. Their displayed works are dedicated to the exploration of the Majlis mythology, a place playing a crucial role in transferring and enriching the oral heritage of folk. Curated by Mara Firetti, Celine Azem, and Ali Cha’aban, the show will be open to the public until the 26th of May, 2024.

The Fifth Wife (installation view). Firetti Contemporary, Dubai, 2024.

Syrian Majalis are famous for their finely crafted furniture, and it is what ARE focuses on. Drawing inspiration from intricately carved Syrian furniture, the studio employs traditional patterns and textures, transforming them into ornate artworks. Meanwhile, Cuban-Syrian artist Jason Seife delves into cultural heritage by exploring Persian carpet designs. Akin to oral traditions, these tapestries carry wisdom and timeless narratives. Through his art pieces, the artist aims to draw our attention to a conflict related to the transmission of oral culture across generations.

Tenet, 2023
Jason Seife, Tenet, 2023. Oil and Acrylic on Canvas. 88.9 x 177.8 cm

Syrian artist Sawsan Al Bahar presents her drawing depicting a seascape. In this work, she reflects on her family name (Al Bahar means the people of the sea or they who come from the sea) and the meanings the sea has as a symbol of departure and return.

Emirati artist Salmah Al Mansoori, who believes that a physical space absorbs memories and shapes identities, is interested in the Majlis’ physical setting. Her artwork on view comprises a collection of tiles gathered in places she has lived in. Al Mansoori transferred photos onto these tiles and thus gave them the weight of time and associated memories. Lebanese artist Ghaleb Hawila‘s focus is also on the physical setting. In his exhibited works, he reimagines traditional Al Masnad cushions as sculptural art.

Al Masnad, 2024
Ghaleb Hawila, Al Masnad, 2024. Wood and Acrylic on Canvas. 280 cm (length)

Saudi artist Khalid Zahid concentrates on the theme of religion and delves into the aesthetics of Islamic structures such as mosques, highlighting their nature that traverses time and space. The artist suggests that the mosque and its “majalis” have evolved beyond their primary significance and become a centre of knowledge from which scholars and leaders have emerged.

The Fifth Wife (installation view). Firetti Contemporary, Dubai, 2024.

Dubai-based artist Aidha Badr‘s work is devoted to the mother-daughter relationship within the cultural setting of the majlis. In the exhibition, she displays her series Please Forgive Me for What I Do when I Don’t Remember You exploring such themes as attachment, guilt, forgiveness, and tenderness. Badr examines the tradition of passing down ideals of femininity and explores the concept of hand-me-downs, particular objects (for example, a piece of clothing) passed down from one generation of women to the next.

To learn more about The Fifth Wife, please visit the show’s official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting Fashioning an Empire: Textiles from Safavid Iran and looking at MIA’s Damascus Room.

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