"Facing high levels of unemployment, many young Arab men are stripped of dignity, sexuality, motivation and hope. Often finding their masculine outlets in risky and destructive ways, one of the most popular pastimes of young Arab men - from the streets of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Ramallah in Palestine, where the video was shot – is the practice of daredevil car stunts, or ‘donut’ spins.
In contrast to this, the screen below depicts the graceful flowing movements of an airborne dancer. Suspended by a thick black silken rope, she spins closer and then further, at times enveloped by the cascading veil-like fabric and at others breaking free from its clutches."
Sama Alshaibi is a multi-media artist born in 1973 (Basra, Iraq) to an Iraqi father and Palestinian mother and is now a naturalized US citizen. Her early practice was based primarily in photography, video art and performance. Over the past several years, the scope expanded to include video/object hybrids, multimedia installations and sculpture.
Alshaibi has a longstanding history of negotiating spaces of conflict in her artwork: the aftermath of war and exile, the power dynamics between the nation and its citizenry and the interaction between humans competing for resources and power. In Alshaibi’s artwork, issues of war, occupation and exile often share the stage with a female protagonist and although she frequently uses her own body, she is rarely representing herself directly: the body is a signifier of the nation, the people or the individual negotiating with political and social oppressions. It can embody the violence of authority and tyranny, or it can serve as a challenge to its power. It also reinforces the notion that the body houses the collective and the individual at the same time; it speaks to a symbiotic relationship that forms the human experience towards anxiety or harmony.
Sama Alshaibi is represented by Selma Feriani Gallery (London) and Lawrie Shabibi Gallery (Dubai).
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