Why you should visit 21,39’s Amakin exhibition at Ithra

This is the first 21,39 exhibition to travel beyond Jeddah…

Of all the exhibitions to have set foot in Dhahran’s Ithra – or the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture – the ninth edition of the 21,39 Jeddah Arts, titled “Amakin”, is one of the ones we have been most eagerly anticipating.

Curator Venetia Porter opened the show in March at the Saudi Art Council. It has now travelled for the first time in the programme’s history, beyond Jeddah, to the Saudi Aramco-funded art centre in the Eastern Province.

21,39 Amakin Ithra

Inspired by Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu’s popular song “Al Amakin,” with the lyrics “all the places long for you”, the exhibition at Ithra will run until September 30.

Take us into your place – your makan

The exhibition, which includes 28 regional and international artists who explore the notion of what “makan”, or place, means to them, demonstrates how their life experiences have shaped their relationship to different places, real and imagined.

21,39 Amakin Ithra

Corralling Saudi artists from Jeddah to Buhairat al-Asfar, Khobar to Baghdad, and a raft of international talent from Chile, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon and Palestine around a central theme, Porter offers a diverse perspective on a subject that is deeply personal and universal, all at once.

“That place where we live and perhaps took for granted became, for some of us, another country as we discovered familiar streets as though, for the first time, observed in minute detail the changing of the seasons or listened to the birds. For others, our makan became a trap – a place to escape from that now caused us trauma and stress,” said Porter.

Visual sensations that can evoke emotions

21,39’s Amakin consists of special commissions and loans, including selected artworks from the Al-Mansouria Collection, and features paintings, drawings, artist books, film, textile and sculpture.

21,39 Amakin Ithra

Poetry also plays a vital role in the exhibition, and many works are on paper in the form of books. Saudi art pioneers Safeya Binzagr and Abdulhalim Radwi headline the show, which also features works by Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, a Sharqiyah-based Saudi modernist master.

“This exhibition is a source of inspiration and will evoke emotions within each visitor; emotions they did not know were lying dormant at the back of their minds,” said Farah Abushullaih, head of Ithra Museum.

21,39 Amakin Ithra

She added, “We are pleased to be able to grow our communities together by joining forces with talented entities and individuals in the hope that we raise awareness in the Kingdom and inspire dialogue about important topics introduced by exhibitions such as this.”

21,39’s Amakin Exhibition, King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra), Dhahran, until September 30.

Visit: Ithra.com

Images: Provided