Middle East

My story is the story of every Saudi woman: Elham Dawsari

RIYADH: Multidisciplinary Saudi artist and author Elham Dausari recalls one of his first sketches, sitting with an iced Spanish latte in his hand, like a sweet fight against the heat outside. Boys my age are playing on the lawn without any social etiquette. She has a Walkman in her hand and pushes her button to create her very own bubble.

“I drew it because I wanted to clarify the question first, not just answer the question. What is this about space? About women? About gender?” she told Arab News.

As she was both the subject of the sketch and the backdrop for the boys performing, she created an instinctive connection between the space around her and where the women fit in.

Two miniature figures as part of artist Elham Dawsari’s artwork “Nfas” exhibited at Jax Art Festival in Riyadh. (Photo by photographer Moat Alyahya)

Subliminally, she seeks to make forgotten women central to her work.

Dawsari explores pre-internet Riyadh in the 1980s and 1990s with a focus on middle and lower class women, how it influenced women’s behavior and how it was shaped by the space around them. We are investigating.

“I think it’s my way of coming to terms with a lot of things that have happened in my life, including women’s stories.


• Dawsari wanted her work to represent women and help them see women in their simplest form: human beings.

• The piece understands where they are now and wants them to be ‘more involved’ in our fast-paced, youth-centric lives, she says.

• Sculptures are personal embodiment of memories and people, designed on a small scale to engage the viewer physically and emotionally.

Saudi Arabia’s culture has gradually loosened its grip on social expectations of women, but some still find it difficult to think critically of the past.

She found that artistic pursuits were a more favorable way to pursue honestly without social backlash.

“Art is how I collide, but indirectly,” Dawsari said.

Subhabat, serving coffee and desserts at women-only events, has been the subject of her most popular work.

A sculpture of Dawsari fanning herself in the summer heat of the patio and one of her five sculptural works entitled “Nfas”.

She said the numbers aroused mystery and curiosity in viewers, which prompted the pursuit.

She grew up in the US until high school and still remembers attending Saudi weddings and seeing her first subabat when she was a little girl.

“Around the age of 12, I began to associate subhabat with understated beauty,” she wrote in an essay.

They had a certain status and prestige at the wedding, but their presence was clearly invisible to those present. Their job was to serve, not to chat.

“The class distinction was obvious, but they still dressed like their grandmothers[at weddings]. I learned that you have adopted the

Subhava serves coffee and desserts at special women-only events, and tea as part of artist Elham Dosari’s photographic series “Subhabat.”

That contrast clings to her and her determination to document these women and their processes, and despite their conspicuous avoidance, in her photo series, essays, and short document titled “Subabat.” We’ve reached a climax.

The concepts of lamentation and nostalgia are prominent in many Saudi works, but she chose to stay away from them.

“Who does it give you what pleasure?” she thought. Instead of highlighting contemporary issues, she decided to highlight stories from her past.

In her work “Nfah”, Dawsari created a series of five miniature sculptures that show how women are using their time at home. In their secluded lives, in their own homes and those of others, they sculpted themselves and searched for open spaces.

The work, recently exhibited at the Jax Art Festival in Riyadh, aims to analyze the relationship between the cityscape and specific behaviors of Saudi households in the 1990s.

The two sculptures, one of which depicts a voluptuous domestic worker woman, one cleaning a garden and the other squatting to hang laundry, illustrate how she maintained her physical fitness in rural Saudi Arabia. It reflects.

Dawsari told Arab News she hopes to start a conversation where she and her audience can see these anchors as more than just domestic workers and parents. The heavy burden of responsibility that society has imposed on them. ”

She wanted her work to represent women so that they could be seen in their simplest form: human beings. The piece will assess where they are now and “hopefully allow them more participation” in our fast-paced, youth-focused lives, she said. .

Sculptures are the personal embodiment of memories and people, designed on a small scale to engage the viewer physically and emotionally.

“‘Nfah’ is the collective story of people I listen to, share, and get into the essence of the artwork…it’s about breaking down these barriers through these women,” she said. .

Dawsari explores urban landscape themes by tracking women’s movements within these traditional homes. In her work, she often wonders what these boxy spaces are protecting us from.

“It’s like an emotional bastion that protects you, another barrier in this society. Why is it so uncomfortable? Why is it so depressing?” she said.

She connects the effects of these spaces we have built and how we impose ourselves in our architecture in return. What will happen to the next generation when we live in it?

“How did it affect women living in another renaissance today?” she asked.

In an age when striving and striving for the future defines our daily lives, it’s easy to disconnect from older people who may not be running at the same pace.

“Everyone who came and interacted was affected, which means we share the same story despite our differences,” said Dawsari.

We all have similar memories of mothers rubbing lemon juice on their laps and making afternoon coffee.

An Indian bystander once came to Dosari to express how her work reminded her of her aunt and family.

“With each passing day, we are losing undocumented stories … The problem is creating (more) habits, more artworks and people interacting about this generation. It’s about having them,” added Dawsari.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2138676/saudi-arabia My story is the story of every Saudi woman: Elham Dawsari

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