Ghada Al Rabea’s first solo show at ATHR sets to present a vividly unique body of work, that is both multi layered in concept as well as content.
Al Rabea’s use of discarded candy wrappers to produce collages of iconic pieces and familiar settings, not only serve to reintroduce the historic and iconic within a contemporary Hijazi context, but also presents a sharp commentary on our globalized system today giving value to the disposed and forgotten- be it material or cultural.
These wrappers are not only discernible in their imagery due to the consumer society we live in, but also nostalgic to childhood, triggering personal memories and touching each viewer individually.
Mentos wrappers, along with KitKat foils and Smarties boxes serve as Al Rabea’s palette, each playing their part in adorning the canvas to represent every day social behaviors or historically iconic masterpieces traditionally woven into our sense of global culture. The wrappers also align to present a decorative and repetitious pattern around its rim, elaborately enhancing her attempt to reintroduce and redefine the classical into the contemporary.
Traditional thobs are represented with Mentos and Munchies abayyas, Van Gogh in a Umma and Frida Kahlo in a traditional Hejazi head dress; a veritable coming of East and West, in a fusion of colour and diversity.
This body of work can be read as a re-presentation of Orientalist notions, one where typically traditional and ‘Old Era’ subjects are pulled into the contemporary using globalized and iconic branded material, uniting its audience in its draw and redefining them with a creative and modern twist of understanding.
*An old tradition among the people of Hijaz held in celebration for the imminence of the Holy Month – Ramadan. The traditional event takes place on the 15th of Shaban – the month preceding Ramadan - where the neighborhood kids gather and visit the houses of neighbors and relatives singing odes and songs demanding candies.