Trees Speaking With Each Other (2019), a large wooden planter box with artificial grow lights, cultivates heirloom tomatoes once widely grown in the artist’s hometown, AlQatif, in Saudi Arabia’s eastern region, whose availability is decreasing due to urbanization. In a gesture of nostalgia and authenticity, the artist searched for specific tomato farms to reproduce the exact species known from her youth for their distinct traits of color (ranging from purple to yellow), size, and taste. These tomatoes also played a role in the artist’s hometown social customs as gifts amongst families once in season. As farmers have been forced to relocate their farms searching for better soil, they renewed cultivating these special tomatoes. Abu Abdallah has used the seeds obtained from these new farms in an artwork that serves not only as an ecological experiment but also an aesthetic statement on preservation.
Sarah Abu Abdallah’s (b.1990) work challenges the impossible by piecing together improbable elements and connections as a gesture of hope and outlet for new narratives through video, installation, poetry, images and conversations. Initially trained as a painter, Abu Abdallah was later attracted to the documentary capacities of the camera, as well as the possibilities inherent in video and performance, leading her to create multimedia works. Through references to gender roles and the female experience, Abu Abdullah explores issues of obscurity and value, probing the social and cultural conditions of contemporary Saudi Arabia.
Abu Abdallah’s solo shows include For the Long Time in a Long Time, Art Jameel Centre, and Kunstverein in Hamburg (2019). Group exhibitions include Durational Portrait: A Brief Overview of Video Art in Saudi Arabia, Athr Gallery, Jeddah (2020), Al Obour, SAC, Jeddah, KSA (2019); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2018); Do it Arabic, Sharjah, UAE (2018); Fluidity in Kunstverein (2016) Hamburg, Germany; Co-Workers in Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2015-16); Prospectif Cinéma /Filter Bubble in Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; amongst others.
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