In the installation Still from Here, PHI Studio harnesses the knowledge possessed by the nomadic Bedouins, who developed means of wayfinding and protection in some of the most difficult living environments. PHI Studio’s work comprises two main elements: first, an illuminated circle that forms both a literal and metaphorical division in the ground. The nomads used to draw these circles in the sand to mark their sleeping area and to create a ditch to protect them from snakes and scorpions. The second component is the lit scepter, which was used as both a walking stick and a sort of compass. Before the traveler slept, he or she would point the stick in the direction of their travels the next day. The two tools allowed the Bedouins to secure their surroundings in terms of presence and direction.
For their site-specific work, PHI Studio has adapted this safety mechanism, with scepters pointing in the direction of the city of Riyadh. The luminous flooring in the inside perimeter of the circle is an interactive area, where viewers are able to draw in the sand – both a meditative practice and a form of mark-making that allows the viewer to participate in the work. Still from Here encourages this sensory interaction to amplify the sense of security emanating from the circle and the certainty the scepter suggests through its confirmation of the destination. The work cements trust in inherited experiences and their utility, as it manifests Bedouin knowledge anew.
Still from here, 2023 ©Phi Studio
Commissioned by RCRC and Riyadh Art