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The Black Arch
Shadia & Raja Alem
* Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Sisters, live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Paris, France.
more info & photos
Curators: Mona Khazindar and Robin Start
Commissioner: Dr. Abdulaziz Alsebail
The work of Shadia and Raja Alem can be read as a double narrative. Raja the writer, and Shadia the visual artist, have a unique and non-traditional artist’s background. While having had a classical and literary education the sisters acquired knowledge through their encounters with pilgrims visiting Mecca. Their family has welcomed pilgrims into their home during the Hadj for generations. Since the mid 1980s, the sisters have travelled the world for exhibitions, lectures, and for the general exploration and appreciation of art and literature, and in some way seeking the origins of cultures and civilizations that sparked their imagination through the stories of the visitors to Mecca throughout their childhood.
The Black Arch has been created through a profound collaboration between Shadia and Raja Alem. It is very much about a meeting point of the two artists; of two visions of the world; from darkness to light, and of two cities – Mecca and Venice. The work is a stage, set to project the artists’ collective memory of Black - the monumental absence of colour - and physical representation of Black, referring to their past. The narrative is fueled by the inspirational tales told by their aunts and grandmothers, and are anchored in Mecca, where the sisters grew up in the 1970s.
From a Press release