An exhibition running at the Ayyam Gallery in Al Serkal Avenue until January 14 2016, hosts photographs and multimedia works of Sama Alshaibi, who uses form and space to communicate haunting realities about the psychological effects of war, displacement and the inane human struggle to momentary power.
In addition to outlining Alshaibi’s intricate sense of formalism, the photographs, installations, and videos of Collapse indicate the underlying themes that have shaped an ongoing narrative in her work, as the artist traces the psychic effects of forced migration, and the ecological crises that have resulted from such manmade disasters.
Several of Alshaibi’s photo-based projects are included in the exhibition, allowing the viewer to travel through a series of performances.
By positioning her body, or that of another model, as an image that measures the psychological content of a scene, Alshaibi symbolically gestures to conditions that obstruct physical movement and suspend the imagination, forcing figures to navigate the unseen yet palpable obstacles of fraught spaces.
A centerpiece of Collapse is the multimedia series Silsila, which was first shown as part of the Maldives pavilion of the 2013 Venice Biennale. Depicting a journey that traces the footsteps of fourteenth-century Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, Alshaibi composes a chain of images that link the significant desert areas and shrinking bodies of water of the MENA region to the island nation of the Maldives, which is currently threatened by rising sea levels.
The title work of the exhibition is a split channel video that invokes the collapse of social structures as different forces struggle for power and humankind disregards the intensifying destruction of the environment.
Narrated by the melancholic and foreboding sounds of a child’s violin, Collapse (2013-14) describes the loss of our most essential source of sustenance while we remain focused on momentary dominance, collectively headed towards disaster.
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