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Shopping carts, selfie sticks and a changing earth - contemporary art in Jeddah

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Shopping carts, selfie sticks and a changing earth - contemporary art in Jeddah

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Jeddah’s annual contemporary art festival goes by the unusual name of 21, 39, inspired by the city’s latitude and longitude.

National and international artists are invited to the Red Sea city for the week-long event. The theme this year was environmental change under the title ‘Earth and Ever After’.

“Our aim at the Saudi Art Council is really to enlighten our society and community with the value of art and the role it can play in human development, through appreciating beauty and creating your own questions and looking for answers,” said Hamza Serafi of the Saudi Art Council, which organises the event.

Among the works on show was an installation by renowned Saudi artist Saddek Wasil featuring shopping carts piled on top of each other, a symbol of consumerism. The son of a mechanic, Wasil works mainly with metal, shaping it into powerful sculptures, that have been shown at exhibitions around the world.

“It’s not just a work of art,” he said. “It’s also linked to my studies because I have a master’s degree in agriculture and environment. So this is something that is very close to my heart, the future of planet. There are lot of environmental problems, especially with the ozone layer.”

Laptops, smart phones, selfie sticks and skate boards – Madeha Al Ajroush’s work is meant to look like prehistoric paintings. The aims is to show how future generations will see today’s world. The Saudi photographer climbed for two hours to capture the images for her installation.

“I took this photograph in the desert of Nejran at the Sarawat Mountain,” she said, pointing to one picture. “Saudi Arabia has the greatest number of petroglyphs, which go back as far as 10,000 BC. Not only that but I find it very interesting that on one rock you can find layers of drawing from different time periods.”

Among the other art works on display this year was a collection of Egyptian film posters on paper tissue boxes dating back to the golden era of Egyptian cinema. There were also lithographs by Lebanon’s Ali Cherri’s and acrylic on canvas illustrations by Syrian artist Boutros Al-Maari.

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