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SAUDI ARTISTS CONFRONT ISLAMOPHOBIA ON US ROAD TRIP
A national tour of contemporary art exhibitions from Saudi Arabia is making its way across the USA.
During one of the most transformative and divisive periods in American history, and at a time when President-elect Donald Trump has been seen to be stoking Islamophobia throughout the US, 10 Saudi Arabian artists and film-makers have undertaken an American roadtrip, aimed at presenting a new perspective on contemporary Saudi Arabian society and culture, and subsequently breaking down the idealogical boundaries between the USA and the Middle East.
Travelling from Texas to California in a converted 34ft Gulfstream RV that serves as a mobile studio, the artists create artwork that explores common concerns and confronts the stereotypes their audience fears.
Artist Abdulrahman Nugamshi performs Saudi calligraphy to show viewers the beauty of its strokes
The two-year, ten-city tour launched in Houston, Texas in June 2016, with the support and backing of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture.
To date, the exhibitions have attracted over 15,000 visitors across 4 cities, through public programmes, performances, talks and lectures, and curator-led tours for over 30 schools and universities.
One spectator from Houston, Texas commented; "These artists give Americans the ability to connect with a culture they've been trained to fear. This confronts every stereotype that I've been trained to believe about Saudi Arabia".
Artwork from the 'Documenting the Undocumented' series, by artist Huda Beydoun who is participating in the tour
In 2017, the tour will visit further locations, including Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Washington D.C. and New York.
One of the young artists, Shaweesh Bey, says; "...what we are trying to do by the whole tour, is just to change, and fill up the gaps between the two cultures and destroy the stereotypes that the media already created".
To watch a brief film about the tour, please visit the Guardian.