Once upon a time in Jeddah...

Kevin Jones visits the three-part exhibition Safar and finds themes of dystopia, abandon and a fragile sense of temporality

By Kevin Jones

Abdullah Al-Othman, Suspended, 2017, site-specific installation. Photo: Mohammad Alfaraj. Courtesy the artist Dana Awartani, I went away and forgot you. A while ago I remembered. I remembered I’d forgotten you. I was dreaming., 2017, video installation. Courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery, Jeddah

Every year, in February, the fledgling Saudi arts scene has its moment. Once upon a time in this austere kingdom, the Jeddah Art Week (JAW) reigned supreme on the local artworld throne. The 2013 brainchild of Art Jameel, a cultural foundation under the auspices of the Saudi-based Abdul Latif Jameel group, JAW set about nurturing local artists and commandeering some noteworthy exhibitions, and ended up drawing attention to an overlooked pocket of Middle Eastern artistic output. But lo! In 2014…

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