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Saudi artists test limits of expression in rare show

Saudi artists test limits of expression in rare show

Addressing political turmoil through their work, Saudi’s artists are testing the boundaries of self-expression in a kingdom where there is much that is censored.

January 25, 2012 4:28 by

The exhibition, which opened last week, includes more than 50 works by 22 Saudi artists giving their views on the country.
Artist Ahmad Angawi brings the Saudi public into his work by installing microphones throughout various locations in Jeddah for his project, “Street Pulse”.

Participants record messages into microphones and hear those left by others through headphones attached to his installation, hundreds of microphones bound together in the shape of an atom.

“It shows the various voices we have, all confined into one sphere. The idea behind it is, if we don’t speak up, if we remain silent, if we keep putting our feelings aside, one day we will explode,” Angawi said.

“I firmly believe we do not need some sort of revolution but that still does not mean that we should be static. We need to develop gradually in a way that suits the place,” he said.

Angawi said he accepted that he might not be able to play some of the comments people recorded, and that finding the right balance between freedom of expression and the demands of a conservative society would be difficult.

“We are at the early stages. This is a launch, a beginning… Baby steps are always the ones that will last,” Alireza said.
“The giant leaps are the ones that cause backlashes that may force you to take a step back,” she added. (By Asma Alsharif; Editing by Angus McDowall and Sonya Hepinstall)

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