Art Museum of University of Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Part of the CULTURUNNERS US tour
Art Museum of University of Memphis
At first glance, the connections between Saudi Arabia and Memphis might seem thin. However, common denominators begin to appear quickly with a little thought. Spiritual people devoted to their faith inhabit Memphis and the Mid-South; the same is true of Saudi Arabia. Memphis’ church bells ring daily, summoning the faithful, as do the broadcast of prayers from the mosques of Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca and Medina. These rituals mark the passage of time in two lands and two religions, and they also signify a soulful stability in their believers even as change does great work all around them.
Where the comparisons are truly striking is in the arts. In the same way that music made a name for Memphis in the 1950s and 1960s, today a generation of young visual and video artists are putting contemporary art from Saudi Arabia on the international cultural map. The depth and beauty of their work is great, but their works are also edgy and provocative. This body of art is imbued with what critic Stephen Greenblatt cited as necessary to great art – the characteristics of resonance and wonder.