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Opening May 8, 2024, ‘Salt-Kissed: Of Vessels That Have Sailed The Red Sea’ is an upcoming exhibition curated by winners of the Art Jameel Curatorial Open Call, Ahmed Al-Aqra and Abed Alrahman Shabaneh

Salt-Kissed’ is a collection of untold narratives anchored by the stories of eight ships that once sailed the Red Sea bearing witness to the idiosyncrasies within its swarming body. These stories narrate the Red Sea’s reciprocal relationship with its environment. Through a blend of archival materials and contemporary works, the exhibition traces ancient and contemporary trade routes, the lives of coastal communities, traditional crafts, modern influence and colonial legacies and their relationship to ecology. Using ships as vessels, Salt-Kissed ventures into themes that have shaped the Red Sea’s present, and its role in transforming both local and global histories. This exploration positions the Red Sea as an animate body in perpetual dialogue with these vessels, with the power to reject, preserve, and transform the objects that traverse it. Diverse in their endeavours, each of these journeys reveals a particular unique portrait of the Red Sea, contributing to the overarching story we seek to unveil in this exhibition; that the Red Sea is not merely a body of water but a vessel in its own right—a vessel brimming with vibrant hues, evocative scents, and echoing sounds.

About the Art Jameel Curatorial Open Call: 

The Art Jameel Curatorial Open Call accepted exhibition proposals with themes pertaining to the Red Sea – its connected geographies, histories, ecologies, and the movement of people and ideas. to be developed for Hayy Arts’s first floor gallery at Hayy Jameel in Jeddah for May 2024.

The awarded curators work alongside the Art Jameel team who will provide guidance on the exhibition’s development, exhibition production and design, logistics, and installation.

About the curators:

Ahmed Al-Aqra

Al-Aqra is a Palestinian artist, curator, and researcher. His pursuits deftly navigate the aesthetics of power inherent in the myriad societal and political frameworks that govern our public realm. Ahmed has actively participated in and curated numerous exhibitions in cities such as Ramallah, Amman, Helsinki, London, and Paris. Recently, he concluded an impactful tenure as a guest curator at the Palestinian Museum. Ahmed co-founded the FANA’ Collective—an experimental and discursive platform that venerates “deconstruction” as the nucleus of their artistic ethos. In 2020, he co-founded EL-GORFEH, pioneering the establishment of the first community Dark Room in Palestine. Ahmed’s intellectual contributions extend to publications in esteemed zines and journals, including The Funambulist, Jerusalem Quarterly, Discontent, and his co-editorship of the Black Journal.

Abed Alrahman Shabaneh

Shabaneh is a Palestinian writer and curator who investigates social dynamics, cultural structures, and art as community contributions. He published his poetry collection titled Making of a Place (Ijtirah al-Makan) in 2015. His art book titled The Golden Warrior won the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture’s Creative and Critical Writings grant in 2019. He also published a novel titled Heaps of Metal (Akwam Al-Ma’dan) in 2022. Shabaneh is also a formally trained architect from Birzeit University, graduating in 2012. He has also curated and organized various art exhibitions and cultural events and currently works as a senior librarian of Leila Miqdadi Library at the A.M. Qattan foundation.