Ayyam Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the 2016 edition of Photo London. Returning to the fair with a selection of photographs from Faisal Samra’s Distorted Reality series (2005-2011), the gallery’s contribution highlights how photography is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary as its forms are challenged by the advent of technology.
￼In his ongoing investigation of visual culture, Samra uses digital photography to scrutinise the dominance of mediated images that overwhelms and distorts twenty-first century life. The Distorted Reality series—a groundbreaking project incorporating video, performance, and photography—depicts how today’s endless flow of mass media destabilises our perception of reality. For the artist, this negatively reshapes individual identities, as the self is caught in a bombardment of images that leaves little room for reflection or resistance.
The photographic component of the series is numbered chronologically and organised as ‘performances’ in which the artist is hidden beneath elaborate headdresses and masks, making recognition of the figure difficult. Although performance is at the centre of the work, implying a transformative process, videos and photographs of his unscripted acts are essential to the series as formal components of a larger conceptual framework.
Performance #13 (2007), for example, captures a sequence of violent gestures while evoking early historical experiments in moving images, as a scene appears to progress across several frames. The triptych also brings to mind man’s enduring attempts to mediate the present by constantly defining space and time. As Samra rapidly twists a textile containing illegible Arabic writing, the implied violence of his performance signals the assault on the self that occurs in the context of our plugged-in world; yet the artist is shown rebelling against this psychological onslaught in each photograph.
About Ayyam Gallery
Founded in 2006, Ayyam Gallery is a leading arts organisation that manages the careers of diverse established and emerging artists. Blue-chip art spaces in Beirut and Dubai, a series of collaborative projects in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and a multinational non- profit arts programme have furthered the gallery’s mandate of expanding the parameters of international art. With its widely respected multilingual publishing division and a custodianship programme that manages the estates of pioneering artists, Ayyam Gallery has also contributed to recent efforts that document underrepresented facets of global art history.
About the Artist
Long considered one of the Arab Gulf’s foremost artists and a pioneer of conceptual art in the Middle East, Faisal Samra incorporates digital photography, painting, sculpture, video, and performance in a creative repertoire that explores existentialist themes with the figure at its centre. Since the mid 1970s, Samra has challenged the prescribed functions of media through meticulously structured works and experimentation and research as the guiding principles of his artistic practice. As his oeuvre has progressed and defied traditional modes of representation, he has rebelled against his own understanding of art, transitioning into new works that maintain three essential concepts: spontaneity, dynamism, and secrecy.
Born in Bahrain (1956), Saudi-national Faisal Samra received a BFA from École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA), Paris (1980). The artist’s selected solo exhibitions include Bin Matar House, Bahrain (2015); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2014); Ayyam Gallery London (2014); Ayyam Gallery Jeddah (2013); HD Galerie, Casablanca (2012); Traffic Gallery, Dubai (2011); Albareh Gallery, Bahrain (2010); Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris (2009); XVA Gallery, Dubai (2007).
￼Recently, Samra has participated in collective exhibitions at the OFF Biennale Cairo, (2015); Abu Dhabi Festival, UAE (2015); Busan Museum, South Korea; FotoFest, Houston (2014), Edge of Arabia, London (2012); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); Maraya Art Center, Sharjah (2010).
Samra’s works are housed in the collections of The British Museum, London; BuchDruckKunst e.V Art Book Museum, Hamburg; the National Museum, Mexico City; the Modern Art Museum, Cairo; Almansouria Foundation, Jeddah; Jameel Art Foundation, Jeddah; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; and Bahrain National Museum, Manama, among others. He has participated in biennials in Singapore (2008) and Cairo (2008), and is a jury member for the Alexandria Biennale, Egypt.
In 2012, Skira Editore published an eponymous monograph on the artist.
Exhibition Dates: 19 – 22 May 2016
Wednesday, 18 May from 11.00 am to 9.30 pm (invite only) Thursday, 19 May from 11.00 am to 8.30 pm
Friday, 20 May from 11.00 am to 7.30 pm
Saturday, 21 May from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm
Sunday, 22 May from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm
Location: Somerset House, London Stand: E12
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