The Kingdom of SAudi Arabia participates in the Venice Biennale 2011 with the exhibition, "The Black Arch"
The Black Arch has been created through a profound collaboration between Shadia and Raja Alem. It is very much about a meeting point of the two artists; of two visions of the world; from darkness to light, and of two cities – Mecca and Venice. The work is a stage, set to project the artists’ collective memory of Black - the monumental absence of colour - and physical representation of Black, referring to their past. The narrative is fueled by the inspirational tales told by their aunts and grandmothers, and are anchored in Mecca, where the sisters grew up in the 1970s.
From a Press release
The Saudi project is less overtly political in content. Saudi Arabia, joining the Biennale for the first time, is to be represented by an installation titled “The Black Arch.” It is the work of two women, Raja Alem, a writer, and her sister, Shadia Alem, a visual artist. The work, the artists say, is an attempt to bring together their city, Mecca, and Venice through an abstract sculpture onto which the artists will project images and sounds of the two cities.
“This participation in the Biennale is revolutionary,” Shadia Alem said in an e-mail. “I hope this peaceful revolution continues.”