Until October 16, 2023, one is welcome to attend Silent Hands, a group show at Hayy Jameel (Jeddah) dedicated to the themes of work and leisure in Asia and its diasporas. It showcases the works of such artists as Pacita Abad, Hangama Amiri, Mohammed Kazem, Maha Malluh, Khairullah Rahim, Anhar Salem, and Aarti Sunder.
The exhibition explores various dimensions of work, both physical and virtual. The art pieces on display highlight the deep connections between workspaces and different aspects of life, such as gender dynamics, financial independence, social mobility, and the impact of migration.
Curator and art historian Rotana Shaker (Art Jameel), who is curating the exhibition together with guest curators Zain Al Saie and Jean Wong, said that each artist presented in the show “brings a unique vision and perspective to the concept of space and place”. The exhibition is about “how we work and where we work”. So the artists from different backgrounds “are looking for ideas which focus on the capacity of space when they are working out of their office”.
About the participants
Pacita Abad (1946, Basco, Batanes, Philippines – 2004) produced vibrant abstract works: large-scale colourful paintings, textile collages, and mixed-media art pieces created using a plethora of different materials (canvas, paper, bark cloth, metal, ceramics, glass, etc.). The artist is famous for her trapunto painting named after a quilting technique. She stitched and stuffed her painted canvases to give them a 3D sculptural effect. Abad then began adding different materials (traditional cloth, mirrors, beads, shells, plastic buttons, etc.) to the surface of her paintings. The artist’s extensive travelling immensely influenced her life and art. She drew her inspiration from what she saw while going to exotic places. Generally, Abad’s work was inspired by her personal experiences: she called herself a painter who paints “from the guts”.
Hangama Amiri (b. 1989, Peshawar, Afghanistan) is an Afghan-Canadian artist whose practice involves using painting and printmaking techniques and working with fabrics. Amiri’s large-scale textile works reference the colours and fabrics she remembers in the bazaars and on the streets in Kabul. In her art, she focuses on cross-cultural dialogue and women’s rights. In her works, the artist also reflects on how everyday objects are filled with cultural memory.
Mohammed Kazem (b. 1969, Dubai, UAE) is a famous conceptual artist working in drawing, video, photography, and performance. Trained as a musician, Kazem is interested in developing processes which can render transient phenomena, such as sound and light, in tangible terms. His series Scratches on Paper comprises visual representations of sounds: sheets of writing paper scratched and gouged with scissors. Kazem also uses overlooked daily objects (construction flags, chewing gum, etc.) to measure and explore global transformations.
Maha Malluh (b. 1959, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) draws inspiration from her home country, especially the Najd historic region. In her art, she examines the cultural symbols of the Saudi Arabian civilization. She also explores the impact of globalisation and consumer culture within her nation. Malluh’s practice encompasses photograms (shadowlike photo images on paper made without using a camera), sculptures, and sculptural installations. In her photogram series, the arrangements of personal items explore how our objects define us and simultaneously capture the changes which have continued to occur in Saudi Arabia over recent decades. The artist’s sculptures are composed of objects found in junk shops and flea markets (empty oil barrels, cassette tapes of religious lectures, etc.) that can be seen as historic symbols of collective Saudi identity.
Khairullah Rahim (b. 1987, Singapore) is a multimedia artist working across painting, assemblage, video, and photography. Interested in the stories and experiences of marginalised communities, he incorporates everyday and found objects from spaces where these communities live into his artworks. In his work, Rahim also explores complex strategies of resourcefulness for everyday survival in environments under constant surveillance. The themes he often addresses in his art are those related to desire, shame, resistance, aspiration, labour, and ethics of disclosure.
Anhar Salem (b. 1990, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) is a graphic designer and filmmaker. In her art, she explores public and private spaces associated with subjects like everyday life, women, and social media. Salem gets involved in more private spaces, building new relationships and shrinking gaps, and questions the capability of making a self-representation in marginalised societies.
Aarti Sunder (b. 1987, India) works with video, performance, writing, and drawing. With her work being at the intersection of digital humanities and contemporary art, she delves into the relationship between technology, economy, fiction, and situated experience. Sunder focuses on studying infrastructure: from contemporary labour practices to expanded platform politics.
To learn more about the Silent Hands exhibition, please visit its official web page.
While at Hayy Jameel, you might also be interested in looking at The Face of the City, a public artwork selected for this year’s Hayy Jameel Façade Commission.