10 m Diameter x 6m
Thurayya highlights the longstanding relationship between the people of Riyadh and the striking, unobstructed desert sky. Often thought of as merely a pleasing sight to the average onlooker, the constellations historically served a purpose for Arabs by acting as a guiding tool, which led to significant advances in the field of astronomy. Using constellations continued to be a living practice until only two or three generations ago. For this work, the main constellation depicted is the famous kaff ath-Thurayyā star cluster (“Hands of Thurayya”). The legend of the cluster tells the story of a beautiful girl named Thurayya who happened to catch the eye of Ad-dabran who, to this day, continues to follow her with his modest offering of twenty camels (Al-qala’es القلائص). By mapping out the brightest stars within the installation, Madhawi AlGwaiz’s installation helps the viewer understand how the stars were used as a navigation tool. Thurayya also evokes the strange, yet grounding feeling of realizing one’s insignificance within the universe, often inspired by the night sky chock-full of stars.
Thurayya, 2023 ©Madhawi Algwaiz
Commissioned by RCRC and Riyadh Art