The potential for installations to create new directions for Saudi Arabian art

  • Hanadi Badawi

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    In 2001 when this research commenced, there was little understanding in Saudi Arabia of the opportunities digital art could provide for artists, how it could be integrated with or used instead of painting, and the effects the enlarged vocabulary could have in
    communicating difficult social issues. As a result, this study aimed at filling a gap in knowledge through reviewing contemporary Saudi art. This, in turn, helped me to understand the position of my practice. The study also aimed at developing a means of
    expression in which traditional art can be combined with digital media and showing how this combination provides a new direction for Saudi art by raising awareness in Saudi Arabia about complex issues. In addition, the study aimed at determining the acceptability of this new form of art to artistically literate Saudi artists through gathering audience’s reactions to the developed artefacts.

    This study comprised of several stages: discovering the state of art in Saudi Arabia and where it fits into the global stage; documenting my journey as an artist and understanding my practice; the creation of the installation and its reception, all of which was documented in a reflective journal. Through reflecting on my practice, I transformed my work from simple traditional pieces of art to more complex installations concerning everyday gender politics. I interviewed 20 practicing artists, noting that the majority of
    their work used traditional forms of art rather than digital art. A week-long exhibition on gender differences in Saudi Arabia was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The feedback from the exhibition showed that, although there is not a strong appreciation of digital art in Saudi Arabia, the audience was able to understand the different components of the installations and the underlying issues being portrayed. They were able to bring their own experiences to the situation and reflected on the installations accordingly.

    The study contributes to knowledge by providing a review of contemporary Saudi Artists as there is no significant literature that documents this in Saudi Arabia. It also contributes to knowledge by exploring and developing artefacts that incorporate different
    technologies and by showing that digital media and traditional art can be used together to articulate complex social issues arising in everyday Saudi life. Finally, it fills a gap in knowledge of how Saudi audiences engage with works that use a combination of traditional and new art to express such issues.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorAndree Woodcock (Supervisor) & Imogen Racz (Supervisor)

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