OCTOBER 28, 2016 ― MARCH 18, 2017
Phantom Punch presents New England’s first exhibition of contemporary art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The show features 16 artists and 2 YouTube collectives; is supported by King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, produced by CULTURUNNERS and realized in partnership with Gharem Studio in Riyadh and Pharan Studio in Jeddah.
Phantom Punch co-curator, Professor of Anthropology, Loring Danforth, comments, “In America, very little is known about contemporary Saudi art and artists. Media accounts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are frighteningly predictable. With this exhibition, we have a rare opportunity to gain critical new perspectives on Saudi society and culture from a group of perceptive young artists who are challenging conventions and exploring the limits of what is possible in Saudi culture.”
Ahmed Angawi, Street Pulse, 2012, 3000 microphones and steel structure, Courtesy of the Street Pulse Project
Bates College Museum Director, Dan Mills, comments, “The artists featured in Phantom Punch create smart, topical, funny, culturally resonant, and technically savvy work. Like Muhammad Ali’s surprising and lightning-fast 1965 knockout of Sonny Liston in Lewiston, experiencing this exhibition and related programing is a cultural “Phantom Punch”, a complete surprise that American, Maine, and even Lewiston audiences didn’t see coming.”
The artists featured in Phantom Punch use an exciting variety of media—calligraphy, painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance, animation, and comedy—to explore topics and issues that shape the lives of Saudis throughout the Kingdom. These include the role of women and the place of foreign workers in Saudi society, the impact of oil on the Saudi economy, the relationship between American popular culture and traditional Saudi values, and the effect of urbanization, globalization, and commercialization on Saudi cities. The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial catalogue with essays by the curators.
Ahaad Alamoudi, My Saudi Couple, 2016, prints on plastic bottles, Courtesy of the artist
An integral component of Phantom Punch is the accompanying educational programming, including workshops, lectures, storytelling, pop-up events on campuses and in community. These cross-cultural initiatives, which aim to connect Middle Eastern and U.S. artists, are being developed and scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition programming. For Bates and surrounding communities, there will be two concentrated periods of programming, the week following the opening, and the first week of February.
Masameer (animated Youtube series) Freedom Foot animation still, Courtesy of Masameer, Saudi Arabia
Phantom Punch marks the fourth stop on a multi-city Saudi artist’s tour of the United States, and is supported by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (iThra) in partnership with prominent Saudi artists. The tour, which launched earlier this summer at the Station Museum in Houston, Texas before traveling to Aspen, Colorado and San Francisco, California, aims to generate people-to-people dialogue and better understanding between nations. Following a run at the Bates College Museum of Art, the tour will continue to other major cities across the country.