Silsila — Arabic for ‘chain’ or ‘link’ — is a site specific, video installation work that depicts Alshaibi’s three‐year cyclic journey through the significant deserts and endangered water sources of the Middle East and North African region and across to the bountiful waters of the Maldives.
By linking the performances in the deserts and waters of the historical Islamic world with the nomadic traditions of the region, and the travel journals of the great 14th century Eastern explorer, Ibn Battuta, Alshaibi seeks to unearth a story of continuity within the context of a threatened future.
Silsila takes its inspiration from the Sufi poet Assadi Ali, who began each line of his poems, “I, the Desert”. An excerpt from that poem calls for us to recognize our common identity: “the grains of my sand rush in asking / begging You [Allah] to keep my descendents / and nation united”.
Silsila is a story of a shared history and soon to be written future — the tales of the climate refugee and its geographic voice, and our search for connection with each other as interdependent peoples and nations plagued by an unthinkable future.
Music composed by Grey Filastine,
featuring Brent Arnold (cello) and Abdel Hak (violin)
Silsila (Chain). Excerpts of five videos, installation wood keel and sound.
Sama Alshaibi’s multi-media artwork negotiates spaces of conflict: the aftermath of war/exile and the dynamics between humans competing for resources and power. Recent solos include vs. Him at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai and Zero Sum Game at Selma Feriani Gallery, London.
Exhibitions and screenings include Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris), the Bronx Museum (NYC), Mapping Subjectivity, MoMA (NYC), and upcoming Fotofest Biennale (Houston). Alshaibi is an Associate Professor of Photography/Video Art at University of Arizona, USA.
Alshaibi’s Silsila: Invoking Routes Across Sand and Sea
Essay by M. Neelika Jayawardane