Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In
Photographs by Sama Alshaibi
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Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In, the first book by this rising artist, presents work from Silsila, a video and photographic installation that premiered at the 2013 Venice Biennale, as well as other series. Alshaibi’s lyrical multimedia work explores the landscape of conflict: the ongoing competition for land, resources, and power in North Africa and West Asia, and the internal battle for control between fear and fearlessness. Additional material, selected from the artist’s series Negative’s Capable Hands, Collapse, and Thowra, is presented in the context of Silsila, meaning “chain” or “link” in Arabic. The artist uses the desert, borders, and the body as overarching symbols of the geopolitical and environmental issues and histories linking the Arab-speaking world.
Alshaibi operates between the United States, western Asia, and North Africa. Much of her work is inspired by and shot onsite in distinct natural landscapes, from the Western Sahara of North Africa to the eastern Arabian Desert on the edges of Iraq—highlighting the jarring contrast between desert and fertile oasis. Alshaibi is often a protagonist in the work, taking on the guise of distinct yet interrelated characters. Edited by Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, a writer and curator based in Abu Dhabi and Honolulu, this book includes an interview between Hughes and Alshaibi, a foreword by Salwa Mikdadi, and an essay by Alfredo Cramerotti.
Sama Alshaibi (born in Basra, Iraq, 1973) has exhibited in numerous biennials, museums, and institutions, including at the Maldives Pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennale, 2013; Museum of Modern Art, New York; FotoFest, Houston; and the Arab World Institute, Paris. She is a Fulbright Scholar, has been an artist-in-residence at various locations worldwide, has been awarded two national teaching awards, and was granted the title of University of Arizona’s 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar. Alshaibi is the chair and associate professor of photography and video art at the University of Arizona. She is represented by Ayyam Gallery.
Isabella Ellaheh Hughes (editor and interview) is an independent curator, critic, and con- tributing editor to ArtAsiaPacific. She has curated many shows internationally and is the cofounder of the Honolulu Biennial Foundation.
Salwa Mikdadi (foreword) is an art historian and independent curator. She is the coeditor of New Visions Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, and was the curator for the first Palestinian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009.
Alfredo Cramerotti (essay) is a writer, curator, editor, and artist based in Wales. He is director of MOSTYN, the largest art gallery in Wales, and editor of the Critical Photography series published by Intellect Books.