MADINAH — On the occasion of Madinah being selected Capital of Islamic Culture 2013 by the Islamic Education Science and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the city is holding an exhibition to celebrate this event under the ages of Madinah Governor Prince Faisal bin Salman.
Each year ISESCO selects a city in the Islamic world to celebrate Islamic culture and those manifestations are usually celebrated through art and cultural exhibitions. To coincide with this announcement of the next selected Islamic Cultural Capital and to celebrate the year of Al Madinah Al Munawwarah as the Capital of Islamic Culture 2013, a special world-class exhibition in association with the British Museum is being mounted here. The exhibition will be named ‘Words and Illuminations’ and encompassing art works of calligraphy and photography.
Prince Faisal bin Salman has actively supported the effort and worked closely with both Venetia Porter of the British Museum and Mohamed Al Edrisi to curate the exhibition. A sneak preview of the exhibition took place in January for the Ministers of Culture from several countries of the Islamic world. The Grand Opening will take place on Feb. 9. The two components of the exhibition are a selection of Art works from the collection of contemporary works in the British Museums on Arabic calligraphy, augmented by loans of important art works from private collection in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the wider Islamic world. This effort is organized in cooperation between two leading galleries, Athr Gallery in Jeddah and Agial in Beirut.
In parallel with the calligraphy component of the exhibition, a photography exhibition will be mounted using the first photographs ever taken in Madinah (The Sadeq Bey photographs from 1880 A.D. and Mirza images from 1881 A.D.) as part of a chronological photo essay up to 1920 A.D. These photographs are taken from the collection of Darat Al Malik Abdul Aziz (King Abdul Aziz Foundation), The King Fahd Public Library and the archives of noted International bodies like the Royal Geographic Society and the Barakat Trust.
The historical photography section of the photography exhibition will also coincide with the publication of the book “Al Madinah Al Munawwarah” by the noted photographer and photo researcher Humberto Da Siliviera and his work on these historical photographs is the core of these historical photographs. In addition to the historic photography component a few important historical objects of Islamic art will also be displayed to complement the photographs. The second part of the photography exhibition consists of commissioned works by noted Saudi artists with photography as their medium. The artists and photographers have undertaken works that are focused on Madinah and include unusual studies of Al Masjid Al Nabawi, people of Madinah, Madinah region archeology and landscape, as well as aerial photography of the region.
The exhibition will be hosted in a modern building part of the Meridian Hotel complex in the Al Aqeeq District, 7km from the Haram, in Madinah. It has been designed and transformed into a world-class art space by Tarik Alireza Consulting Engineers. This area falls out of the Haram zone thus enabling people of all faiths to visit the exhibition. The duration of the exhibition is 3 months and will be accompanied by two catalogs, one on the calligraphy exhibition and the second on the photography exhibition.
One of the significant precedence that this exhibition establishes is the need to provide in our cities spaces that can host exhibitions for local exhibitors and international partners. The reign of Madinah as capital of Islamic culture in 2013, was indeed a successful one that has taught us that with diligence, perseverance and enlightened leadership, a lot can be achieved and accomplished. This exhibition, as well as the many activities that took place in the last several months shows the intention that Madinah will reassert itself, again, as an Islamic center of learning and culture that it maintained in its first two centuries when the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions made it a beacon of piety and learning.—IINA