A group of acclaimed Saudi and international photographers have joined forces for the launch of a new exhibition project in the Kingdom.
The inaugural edition of Jeddah Photo 2022, running at Athr Gallery until March 17, will be showcasing a variety of images including some of the earliest photographic experiments, modern classics, and innovative contemporary artworks.
Under the title “The Time is Right,” this year’s event aims to raise awareness about the fragile balance of humans’ relationship with the natural world.
Organized by the Saudi Art Council and supported by the Ministry of Culture’s Museums Commission, the exhibition will take place annually to promote the medium of photography in the country.
Curated by editor and photographic consultant, Zelda Cheatle, the presentation includes works by leading picture takers from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Arab world along with those of established Saudi artists such as Manal Al-Dowayan, Mohammed Al-Faraj, Marwah Al-Mugait, Moath Alofi, and Fahad bin Naif.
Photos by a selected shortlist of emerging Saudi snappers have also been included among the exhibits.
On the sidelines of the exhibition, visitors can take part in a variety of activities including guided tours and meetings with the photographers.
Addressing the opening ceremony audience, Cheatle said: “The first edition of Jeddah Photo celebrates photography with ‘The Time Is Right,’ an exhibition that places the very best of Saudi and international artists within the canon of the contemporary arts, heralding a fresh and dynamic response to the photographic medium.
“In all its various forms, the exhibition proposes different ways of seeing and being in the world, looking at and raising awareness on the fragile and delicate balance that is required for our coexistence with nature.
“The curatorial direction which brings these artists together is their awareness of the fragility of life on Earth, our place within it, how we perceive our role and responsibilities, and how ‘The Time is Right’ to be aware of these issues,” she added.
In a pre-recorded speech from Australia, chief executive officer of the Museums Commission, Stefano Carboni, said: “The commission under the Saudi Ministry of Culture is proud to support ‘The Time is Right’ which is dedicated to the medium of photography, a form of artistic expression that is now widely acknowledged to be one of the driving forces in contemporary art.”
He pointed out that the proliferation of institutions, museums, and museum departments dedicated to photographic arts over the last 50 years highlighted the cultural significance and potential of the medium.
He noted that the works of the photographers participating in the Jeddah exhibition carried strong messages through analogue and digital pictures, black-and-white and digitally enhanced color shots, and photos taken on iPhones and some of the most sophisticated cameras.
Elham Dawsari’s photo display, “Tales of Sisterhood in Hospitality 2021,” explores the human condition of Riyadh’s 1980s and 1990s pre-internet women of middle and lower economic classes. She also focuses on the relation between urban landscaping and social conditioning specific to the women.
Saudi-based professional photographer, Helmy Alsagaff, became the first winner of the exhibition’s annual photography award, established by the Museums Commission to recognize emerging photography from Saudi Arabia.