It was nighttime in Jeddah and everyone gathered around the historic Bab AlBunt Museum in the city. It is the building of the old Ottoman port, constructed on filled land by Noori Pasha in 1962 and renovated by the late King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
On this particular evening its façade serves a new purpose: As the backdrop for a magnificent performance of video-mapping by artist Marwah AlMugait as part of the Saudi Art Council’s initiative 21’39’, supported by the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Made in collaboration with local digital media company Midwam, through a series of abstract visual representations, the performance told the story of the expansion of the Red sea into the heart of Jeddah.
“The work is about the revival of memory,” says AlMugait. “It’s about the memory of those who stood waiting for the arrival of the pilgrims, those who have been through the adventures of the sea, and the stories of the pilgrims during the absence from their families and their journey’s hardships to perform Haj. It is also about the memory of a historic building now 140 years old.”
Stills from AlBunt (2019) in Jeddah. 3D Projection mapping
Courtesy of the artist
The project concludes with a poem by Abu Nawas when he first arrived in the city to performed Haj. “Our everyday lives are filled with so much that we don’t see,” says AlMugait. Being able to see the unseen of these objects and also interactions between people leads us to grasp more fully the invisible, energetic connections that make life so rich. “This invisible attachment dragged my attention into how to represent this unseen life visually, by making the invisible visible.”
Her early photographs consist mostly of portraits and street scenes in Saudi Arabia, a practice that dates back to when she was 11 years old and acquired her first Canon film camera. Photography began as a hobby and she would randomly take images in black and white film until she decided to pursue as a career. In the absence of any degrees in photography in Saudi Arabia, AlMugait went on to obtain a BA in Business Administration from King Saud University, followed by an MA in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster (2012).
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