Model of Motions
‘Model of Motions’ is a collaboration between artists Sama Alshaibi and Michael Fadel. It is a multi-media installation comprised of ‘Swell’ – a kinetic wood and metal vessel filled with white sand that seesaws as if gently rocking over the waves of a sea, while also undulating the sand through a second kinetic mechanism inside the boat. The installation also includes a video art work, ‘Footsteps’, that features a male protagonist futilely rowing an oar in an endless white desert. The figure multiplies over time, alluding to Islamic art in which the the singular mirrors upon itself, creating formations that suggests an extension towards the divine. Swell and Footsteps are connected by a rustic ship anchor partially buried in white sand on the ground, and linked together by a metal chain. The installation forms a snaked pathway that conceptually journeys over sand and water, history and imagination, earthly desire and celestial wonder. It references the historical intertwining of cultures, communities and commodities that have resulted in movement through the geographic trade routes of the Silk Road. It also suggests the ecological plight of the region that is struggling with depleted fresh water due to climate change, decertification and famine triggered by non-indigenous farming practices imposed by Colonialists. Model of Motions delivers an ominous message – that in the age of globalization we are on a path towards annihilation. Our non sustainable systems of large-scale transfers of goods and materials, the pillaging of resources from our developing nations and the loss of local traditions – once viable in the semi-arid and desert climate of the Middle East and North Africa – is escalating and contributing to the region’s political tribulation . The installation, through all its components, suggests human life, material object and resources as depleted and out of context. It stands as a metaphor for the eco-political refugees who have been stripped of all roots, aimlessly wandering into the unknown. Both artists are refugees to the USA, displaced by war in their homelands. As such, the installation was informed by their own personal experiences with global movement and desire to call attention to the ongoing plight of refugees. The work was commissioned by The International Symposium on Electronic Art in 2014, and was first exhibited in Dubai. The work was commissioned by The International Symposium on Electronic Art in 2014, and was first exhibited in Dubai. It was then exhibited at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona (2016), and will show next at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum (Cornell University) in New York (2017).
Sama Alshaibi (Palestine/Iraq) multi-media artworks disinters negotiations in spaces of conflict: the causation and aftermath of war and exile, the clashes between nation and citizenry, the vexatious dynamics of humans competing for land, resources and power, and finally, one’s own internal struggle with mental entrapment through self-policing emotions such as fear. Although she frequently uses her own body, Alshaibi is rarely representing herself directly. The body situates itself in allegorical contexts, trapped in time and space. The body juxtaposed with symbol, backdrop and gesture, constructs contexts of her physicality. The body as evolving metaphor. The body as site. The absence of her body in her artwork is still the context of the body absent.
Alshaibi has had over ten international solo exhibitions and her artworks are widely exhibited in prominent international biennials, film festivals, museums/institutions, galleries and fairs, including the 55th Venice Biennial, Honolulu Biennial 2017 (Hawaii), 2014 FotoFest International Biennial (Houston), MoMA (NYC), Edge of Arabia (London), Arab World Institute (Paris), Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco), The Bronx Museum (NYC), Paris Photo (Paris) and Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver). Aperture Foundation published her first monograph, “Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In” – it was released in March of 2015 in conjunction with her solo exhibition with Ayyam Gallery in London. Recent and upcoming solo exhibitions include “Sama Alshaibi: Silsila” at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (Arizona, USA, 2016) and at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University (NY, USA, 2017), “Collapse” at Ayyam Gallery in Dubai (2015) and “vs. Him” at Lawrie Shabibi Gallery in Dubai (2012). Her art residencies include Darat al Funun (Amman), A.M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah) and Lightwork (NY). Alshaibi was awarded two national teaching awards and granted the title of ‘University of Arizona’s 1885 Distinguished Scholar’. She has been awarded the 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholars Fellowship to the West Bank, Palestine. She is currently Chair and Full Professor of Photography and Video Art, University of Arizona, where she has taught since 2006. Alshaibi is exclusively represented by Ayyam Gallery.