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. 


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.

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