Sama Alshaibi Silsila Unless Weeping

Upcoming Exhibition

September 9, 2017
December 24, 2017
In the wing, Opatrny, and Picket Family VIdeo Galleries, Floor 2L

Named for the Arabic word silsila, or “link,” this solo exhibition of several photographic series and videos is meant to represent the joining of individuals to one another, humans with the natural world, and the self to the divine.

Sama Alshaibi retraced the journeys of fourteenth-century explorer and scholar Ibn Batūtah through the Middle East, North Africa, and the Maldives—a group of Southeast Asian islands threatened by rising sea levels. Recording sublime desert terrains and vast skies of countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Palestine, Alshaibi presents the feminine form—isolated amongst these spare landscapes—as a metaphor for humanity and the natural world in jewel-like colors, geometric patterning, mirroring and symmetry to reference the formal qualities of Islamic art traditions. In this way Alshaibi provokes contemporary questions about borders, migration, and environmental demise in relation to the human body in her work, informed by her own biography as a political refugee turned American citizen.

Alshaibi was born in Iraq in 1973 to parents of Palestinian and Iraqi descent. She is currently Chair and Professor of Photography and Video Art at the University of Arizona, Tucson. This exhibition was organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Alshaibi’s work was included in the inaugural Honolulu Biennial earlier this year.