Summerhall. Edinburgh until March 8th
Building a home, as demonstrated by the fifteen photographers and film-makers in this British Council touring exhibition travelling across ten venues in the Middle East and UK, is about more than four walls and a door. Pulled together by Cardiff-based Ffotogallery director David Drake, the show brings together work by artists from both territories to create a disparate community occupying the same global village.
Kids play football and sit on walls in Xo, Josh Adams Jones’ studies of Oman’s ex-pats. In Melting Boundaries, Gillian Robertson captures a group of teenagers posing on a bench beside a tree, looking invincible enough to take on whatever world you’ve got. Such enlivened everydayness proves similarly captivating in Beyond Home, Hussain Almosawi and Mariam Alarab’s series of images of Bahraini immigrants who built new lives in Britain.
En route to this, however, are the ruined mosques on the road to Medina in Moath Alofi’s The Last Tashahud series. There is too the aftermath of the Iraqi destruction of Kuwait in the dilapidated palaces of Mohammed Al-Kouh’s Invasion / Qasr AlSalam. Equally foreboding are Sara Al Obaidly’s images of the Qatari landscape since the discovery of natural gas in Concrete Diaries, while plastic bottles and cars mark the modernisation of Dubai in Ben Soedira’s Foreign Sands.
With myriad points between, the exhibition alights with two short films. In Abi Green and Sebastian Betancur-Montoya’s Fata Morgana, a figure covered in coin-shaped mirrors drags a reflective hut around like a nomadic sea creature hauling its shell in search of somewhere safe to evolve.
Finally, Hiwar: Reimagining the Music of Oman, is Zahed Sultan’s quick-fire peek into the development of a concert drawn from pearl-diving music from the Persian Gulf. The euphoric sounds that travel the gallery lay bare the communal power the international language of music brings with it.
The List, February 2020