Nostalgia Takes Us to Sea, but Desire Keeps Us from the Shore (2010), like most of Al Dowayan’s works, results from personal experiences belonging to her series, And We Had No Shared Dreams (2010). It depicts an imagined conversation between urban inhabitants and their cityscape, an unstable, symbiotic relationship in a constant state of uncertainty at its core. Through this work, AlDowayan highlights the distinct physicality that nostalgia imposes on the mind and its movement. She captures the backdrop image in a style she coined as “drive-by-shootings,” collecting images shot from a moving car between two different locations on the same bridge connecting Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. A poetic verse by prolific Saudi poet and writer, Dr. Ghazi Al Gosaibi overlays the photograph, rendered in neon. The poet’s words represent the conversation between the location and its residents while addressing the state of being “in-between.” The work reflects the movement between two spaces, both physically and emotionally, and the barriers faced within both.
Manal AlDowayan (b. 1973) is a Saudi artist. Long invested in interrogating the gender-biased customs that impact the condition of women in Saudi Arabia, AlDowayan is a sensitive yet critical witness to the cultural metamorphosis engulfing the Kingdom. Her works spring from lived experiences—these intimate encounters with social injustice, the pangs of memory and forgetting. Yet her pieces are consistently galvanizing, sparking identification and engagement, particularly among women around the world.
AlDowayan’s work has been exhibited regionally and internationally in such institutions as the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE (2016); Santander Art Gallery, Madrid (2016); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA (2015); the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada (2015); Prospect New Orleans, American Biennial, USA (2014), Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2014), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013), in collateral shows at the Venice Biennale (2009/11), among others. Her works can be found in the collections of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; and British Museum, London.
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