[-empyre-] Art and Saudi Arabia

Dale Hudson dmh2018 at nyu.edu
Wed Feb 5 01:23:59 AEDT 2020

Thanks, Sean, for this post. For anyone unfamiliar with Gharam’s practice, his website is https://abdulnassergharem.com <https://abdulnassergharem.com/>.

Sean, could you tell us more about how artists like Gharam navigate various state and social restrictions to play a role in defining and redefining Saudi Arabia? I was struck by the use of stamps and concrete blocks.

Is the work received as Saudi, Arab, or Middle Eastern?

It would also be great to hear about telfaz11, which uses YouTube to circumvent restrictions placed on television.

> On Feb 3, 2020, at 19:55, Sean Foley <foleymtsu at gmail.com <mailto:foleymtsu at gmail.com>> wrote:
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>> Over the last two decades, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a cultural renaissance in film, literature, online media, stand-up comedy, and the visual arts. On multiple occasions, Abdulnasser Gharem, one of the country’s foremost artists, has argued that he and his colleagues fill a critical social role, telling the New York Times in 2016: “That is your role as an artist, to bring out the option that the politician can’t say and that the religious man can’t say… You bring out the solutions that people can’t say.” Three years later in an interview with Spain’s El Pais, he stressed that art is “a form of soft power” through which you “can change people’s behavior.” “People,” he added “need to listen to the artist.” Is Gharem right? What role could he and other artists like him play in a country in which an absolute monarchy and clerics have long wielded enormous power? What could Gharem and artists tell us about the Kingdom in 2020? 
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