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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artists. Writer - Gabrielle Officer, visual arts writer.

Vantage: Layers of Meaning Art and Spirituality

‘What defines us as Muslim women?’ Stephanie Ravel,

in a new light. She evokes the multiple symbols in

a French photographer who converted to Islam asked

religion; symbols whose meaning, by their familiarity

She evokes one essential question surrounding faith: “should we have our own faith imposed upon us or should we interpret it ourselves?

this question to a group of artists. From this starting

to us, can become distorted.

them to question whether the threads of knowledge

In the exhibition Vantage, seven Bahrain-based female

and lightness. It is an intimate portrayal in which art

artists share their unique perspective on the common

and ritual meet.

theme, which is their Muslim faith, and how this relates to their identity as artists. The exhibition, a feature of

Ghada Khunji depicts light as an essential feature,

the 2015 Bahrain Spring of Culture Programme at the

the origin of all religion and art. She touches on

Al Riwaq Gallery, is an exploration of the relationship

the realities of coming back to her homeland

between art and spirituality.

after spending time abroad, having gathered new experiences which doubtlessly present a familiar place

point, a journey exploring the multiple facets of faith

are being woven in a way which is pleasing to Allah.

began. The group of participants—Ghada Khunji, Hala

In the black and white photomontage Echo, Mariam

Yateem, Mariam Al-Arab, Stephanie Ravel, Somaya

Al-Arab’s depiction of mosques at an angle that

The focus of the installation In Prayer by Tamara Saleh

Abdulghani, Tamara S. Al-Pachachi and Waheeda

emphasises their grandeur illustrates multiple driving

Al-Pachachi is on the niyyah (intention), as the energy

Malullah­—includes both established and emerging

forces within the Islamic community. The “echo”

in the spiritual act of prayer which is seen as a direct

artists from different walks of life. Renowned Arab

produced by these often overlapping voices may

link to God and the universe. She calls for positive

artist Camille Zakharia and Bayan Al Barak Kanoo,

hinder one from hearing their own inner voice. She

and sincere intentions by photographing the hands of

owner of the Al Riwaq Art Space, both gave their

evokes one essential question surrounding faith:

several Muslims as they recite a du’a (prayer).

valuable insights about the artists’ work. The range of

“Should we have our own faith imposed upon us or

different angles expressed on the subject is apparent

should we interpret it ourselves?”

in the manifold of media displayed—photomontage, collage, mixed media and audio. While the pieces in

In her photomontage, Hala Yateem examines the

uniformly painted in white, to draw a parallel between

the exhibition can speak universally and feature some

meaning of jihad as the Mujahadat al Nafs (struggle

the materialistic value of currency and the status of the

common themes, they are also deeply personal, as

with the self) by using images of prayer to create a light

woman in the Arab and Muslim world. The creative

expressions of the artists’ inner worlds. How the theme

and bright geometric figure, a stark contrast to the

process which surrounded Vantage was a journey

resonates most strongly to them is a result of where

conventional dark interpretation of jihad perpetrated

in itself: from the process of introspection to the

they stand in their religious, artistic and life journey.

by the media in current times.

exchange of different ideas came the artists’ common

From their unique vantage points, each photographer provides an answer to the question.

44 tribe

In Personal Status, Waheeda Malullah utilises the imagery on coins of various monetary value, all

understanding that each is seeking different answers The neutral tones and interlacing of different materials

through religion. Vantage was an opportunity for the

in Sumaya Abdulghani’s piece create an organic feeling

artists to pause and reflect on their identity as Muslim

In the set of three artworks called i-Islam, Stephanie

which mirrors a simplicity found in nature. Read, the first

women as well as artists. The artwork produced acts

Ravel presents a self-documentation of her discovery

word revealed in the Holy Quran, is also the intention of

as a kind of mirror to the viewer, who in turn is invited

of the faith, from initial struggles to a sense of ease

the artist, who wishes to educate the viewer, and invite

to question him or herself.

Tribe 01  

Photography and New Media from the Arab world

Tribe 01  

Photography and New Media from the Arab world