Don’t miss the return to the Aga Khan Museum of a popular work from our 2015 exhibition Home Ground: Contemporary Art from the Barjeel Art Foundation, which highlighted the work of Arab artists examining how private life is shaped by current political events. This summer, Saudi-Arabia-born artist Manal AlDowayan is back at the Museum with a fuller version of Suspended Together – (Standing Dove, Eating Dove), the pair of porcelain birds that were visitor favourites. This summer’s installation, Suspended Together, which floats above the courtyard café in the Museum’s atrium until October, is a flock of 30 birds representing Manal alDowayan response to Saudi Arabia’s travel restrictions.
WOMEN’S TRAVEL DOCUMENTS ON DOVES’ WINGS
Female citizens in Saudi Arabia are required by law to obtain written permission from a male guardian to travel independently. The guardian may be a woman’s father, husband, brother, or sometimes even her son. To address this, Manal alDowayan has created an installation of white doves with copies of women’s travel documents imprinted on their wings. Images of these documents were donated by Saudi females of many different ages and social roles. The youngest was six months old, the oldest 60, and among them are award-winning professionals and active pioneers in various fields in Saudi Arabia, such as science, engineering, journalism, education, and the arts.
“Regardless of age and achievement, when it comes to travel, all these women are treated like a flock of suspended doves.”
– Manal alDowayan
SAUDI ARABIA LIFTS DRIVING BAN, ARTWORK GAINS NEW SIGNIFICANCE
Suspended Together, which Manal AlDowayan first created in 2011, gains new significance this summer as a symbol of hope. The Saudi government has announced that on June 24, 2018, the law prohibiting women in Saudi Arabia from obtaining driver’s licenses will be changed, marking an advance in the struggle to end the male guardianship system.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Embracing diverse media, Manal AlDowayan's work encompasses black and white photography, sculpture, video, sound, neon, and large-scale participatory installations. Her artistic practice revolves around themes of active forgetting, archives, and collective memory, with a large focus on the state of Saudi women and their representation. She has documented social groups like the oil men and women of Saudi Arabia in her project If I Forget You Don't Forget Me, and has addressed the impact of mass media on propagating intentional erasing of identities in her project Crash, highlighting the unnamed Saudi teachers dying in car crashes across Saudi Arabia. Her participatory projects, like Tree of Guardians, Esmi-My Name, and Suspended Together, have attracted hundreds of women to use art as a new platform to address social injustice. In 2014, she was a recipient of a research fellowship from NYU AD and was invited in 2015 to the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. She has shown her work in Prospect 3 New Orleans - The American Biennale (2014/15), in collateral shows at the Venice Biennale (2009/11), and at museums around the world like Gawngju Museum in South Korea, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, The Victoria and Albert Museum in the U.K., and Mathaf Museum of Modern Arab Art in Qatar. Her artworks are part of public collections at the British Museum, LA County Museum, Louisiana Museum, and Mathaf. Manal holds a Master's Degree in Systems Analysis and Design and currently lives in London while completing her M.A. in Contemporary Art Practice in Public Spheres at the Royal College of Art.