As part of the festival, Al Riwaq Art Space worked with artists and designers under the theme of "I Wish I Was a Dove on a Spar.." an exploration of a unique moment of transition where we are far enough to look back at our learned pasts and close enough to contemplate on our possible futures, a crossroads between retrospection and anticipation. Participating artists were invited to use their art as a worldmaking tool to actively imagine unfolding times. They were encouraged to learn from the layers of collective memory and narratives embedded in the urban fabric, to actively reflect on our city, environment, society, and through their creations make new meanings for human encounters on intimate and public scales.

As we stand on the precipice of change, we look onto art as a means for active reflection, urging us to engage with the city as observers and active participants. The city, acting as a mirror, reflects our individual and collective selves, and prompts us to ponder on how we as inhabitants shape the urban landscape and how it in turn shapes us. Artists were encouraged to decipher the language of our city, conversing with it in a behavioral, visual, sensorial and sonic sense. The city hence becomes a dynamic space where imagining, meaning-making, feeling, and reflecting converge. Through this active exploration, artists can bring forth creations that actively mold narratives of our shared futures, rooted in the wisdom of our pasts that resonate with the evolving language of our city.

Beautifully captured by Khurram Salman

نبش هويتنا
Unearthing our Identity
Participatory art exhibit and a series of 3 workshops
Location: Al Jazzaf House, part of Muharraq's Pearling Path

My contribution was a participatory art research project that took place in the old Al Jazzaf House (part of the Pearling Path houses), coincidentally 2 minutes walk away from my grandfather house. The project mapped the diverse tapestry of ethnic and individual identities that shape up Bahrain’s vibrant culture, where audience became collaborators in creating an immersive exhibit that expresses the complex identities and relationships between people and places. This work is part of the wider research project, Mahd, looking at the interplay between the human culture and ecological systems in the Arabian Peninsula

Using paper, coloring pencils, scissors, tape and string, the audience, now participants, were invited to craft a "token" that represents their own identity, and were asked to write on them labels that they call themselves with, and labels that others give them. When finished with their craft, the participants hanged their token of a wire mesh floating off the ceiling, and connected their token to the region(s) of the world their ancestors were from. Regions were represented by a black stick wrapped with different colors on the top, where connections from participants' tokens were made through the same color of the region.

Regions were mapped out based on the proximity and relationships Bahrain had with them, and included: Arabia’s East Coast (From Kuwait, East Saudi, Qatar, and UAE), Red Sea to Central Arabia (North, West, and Central Saudi), South Arabia (South Saudi, Oman and Yemen), Alahwaz (East Coast of the Gulf Sea / West Coast of Iran), Faris (South Iran), Iraq Region (Iraq and West Iran), The Levant (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria), North Africa (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Western Sahara), East Africa and Swahili Coast (Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and parts of Kenyan and Tanzanian east coast and islands), Rest of Africa (without North and East Africa), Anatolia and South Caucasus (Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan), Iran and Central Asia (Rest of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan), Baluchistan and South Asia (East of Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), East Asia (China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan), East Europe and North Asia (Russia), European Continent, Oceania Region (Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia), North American Continent, and South American Continent.

Exhibit on Al Riwaq Art Space Instagram.
Starting workshop
First tokens being placed
Central piece represents Bahrain Islands
Participant crafting her identity
Tapestry of diverse ancestry
Artist organizing the exhibit