By Sekka Team
From Maha Alasaker’s A Trap Called The Body series. Images courtesy of Maha Alasaker. Click on each image to view it in a bigger size.
Under the theme Enough Is Enough, the Khaleeji Art Museum launches its second digital exhibition of the year, this time raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault, and why it must stop.
12 artists from and residing across the Arab Gulf States have participated in Enough Is Enough, an online art exhibition organized by the Khaleeji Art Museum which went live earlier today on the Museum’s digital domain, including notable Kuwaiti photographer and artist Maha Alasaker, who is best known for her 2017 Women In Kuwait photography series, and Rabab Boualayan, one of the artists associated with the growing Lan Asket Movement in Kuwait.
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The participating artists’ works make strong literal and symbolic statements against sexual harassment and assault—which unfortunately continue to persist worldwide, and which are not specific to a certain country, or gender— in all its diverse forms, and the victim blaming and silencing that are frequently coupled with it.
25-year-old Saudi-Egyptian digital artist Shahad Nazer’s piece features a woman carrying a sign that states “I never asked for it” in English and Arabic, which she holds up against floating accusations of blame. “The victim is usually blamed for the assault. This artwork highlights that it’s not the victim’s fault whatsoever, no matter what the reason was. It’ll always be the harasser’s fault,” says Shahad with reference to her work, which focuses on women’s experiences with sexual harassment. “She never asked for it, her choice of clothes is not her fault, and she definitely does not deserve this. In the background you can see some comments that the victim usually hears, and it’s blurred out because I wanted the focus to be on her and her say in all of this.”
Bahrain-based artist Noora Alhashimi’s The Female Matrix highlights the expectations and boundaries imposed on women in particular, which she argues can silence them after they are sexually harassed. “By reducing these confining boundaries into a literal enclosure, the artwork reflects the extent to which they can disfigure a person. As opposed to a real matrix (usually an environment that promotes growth), the Arab woman’s matrix ironically condenses her into an object, forbidding her from taking up space, or simply fighting back,” she says, describing her digital artwork. To create change, the new generation “must talk to make others listen even if the past generation was blind and couldn’t say anything,” says Dubai-based Iraqi artist Abeer Al Edani, who took part in the exhibition through her acrylic painting, We Must Be Heard.
Beyond the experiences of women with sexual harassment and sexual assault, Dubai-based Italian artist Mattias Gamblardella’s The Pack raises awareness about sexual harassment amongst teens. “This practice doesn’t just happen to girls. Guys may harass other guys, and girls may harass other girls. Sexual harassment isn’t limited to people of the same age, either. Adults sometimes sexually harass young people but…sexual harassment [also] happens to teens, by a group of people within the same age group,” he says. Similarly, Saudi-based Mai Yousef and Muhammad Salah’s collaborative digital artworks aim to raise awareness about the sexual abuse that those with special needs face, and emphasize the need to take greater measures to protect them.
Other artists highlight the impact experiences of sexual harassment and assault leave on their victims in their works. Amongst these artists is Kuwait and London based artist Loura Enezi’s, who participated in the exhibition with her painting Harassment And Its Isolation. Explaining her work she says, “The absence of the face resembles the feeling of being unseen and isolated…At the same time, the individual’s hands represent the distress caused by the incident and comprehending it.” She adds that in her painting, “The viewer will recognize the extent of harassment towards one’s life and, most importantly, mental health.”
Since its launch on International Museum Day in 2020, the Khaleeji Art Museum, the first digital museum that showcases and promotes the work of artists and photographers of the Arab Gulf States by hosting regular online exhibitions and galleries of their work, has held three online art exhibitions, including Khaleejis In The Time of Corona, Ramadan In Isolation and Art For Change. It has also showcased the paintings of the late Saudi artist Zakia Abdulaziz Al Dubaikhi and the artworks of H.H. Sayyida Meyyan Shihab Al Said of Oman through dedicated digital galleries. All exhibitions and galleries, including Enough Is Enough, are permanently available online for viewing on www.khaleejiartmuseum.com .
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