JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia moves towards a greener and better future for the planet, many are inspired to promote sustainability, like the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).
The newest exhibit at the Ithra Museum, Terra, which means “fertile soil” in Arabic, is designed to educate visitors about the dangerous effects humans have on the planet and encourage discussion on the subject.
“This is not a political movement,” Farah Suhail Abushullaih, director of the Ithra Museum, told Arab News.
“It arouses curiosity and understanding for a world issue through creativity and art. It examines this relationship between humans and the earth and allows visitors to reflect on their abilities to have a positive impact on the planet. “
From the environment full of fascinating visual effects to walking through a tunnel made of mountains of plastic, the international artists from Terra take visitors on an eye-opening and haunting journey to rekindle their love for the planet.
The artists created with recycled materials and used different methods such as virtual and augmented realities.
“Through different installations and works of art, each artist brought his or her unique skills and ideas to the table and implemented them differently to address these environmental challenges,” said Abushullaih.
“Some of the challenges we face are the overconsumption of plastic bags, the effects of climate change on plankton, coral reefs damaged by overfishing, and even the challenge of water scarcity.”
Daniel Popper, a multidisciplinary artist known worldwide for his sculptures and public art installations, has an entrance piece that is a metaphor for guests entering the heart of nature.
“He planted a huge monument with an installation made of upcycling material next to the gate. He did this to create a gateway to knowledge and to form an invitation to connect and understand nature, ”said Abushullaih.
Another exhibition is by Basia Goszczynks, who creates art with recycled materials that she finds on the beach, on the street and in landfills. Goszczynks was behind the installation of a cave made from 80,000 used plastic bags.
The piece is intended to encourage visitors to visually experience half a second of the worldwide consumption of plastic bags.
“The idea is to create a shocking moment that allows the visitor to adopt a new approach to handling single-use plastics,” said Abushullaih.
Terra shows impressive optical illusions and immersive and interactive technologies from META, an international experience products company that combines intelligence, craft and artistry with immersive technologies.
“META’s contribution is the Oxygen Oasis installation, which tells the story of oxygen production on Earth using 3D projection mapping,” said Abushullaih.
Terra was first exhibited in New York City at Arcadia Earth, a next-generation art exhibition and augmented reality experience designed to re-stimulate discussion on the world’s most pressing issues. Terra has now found its way to Ithra in Dhahran through the centre’s collaboration with Arcadia Earth.
It was created by Valentino Vettori, a skilled artist with more than 20 years of experience dedicated to reinterpreting the way people interact and engage with the environment. Arcadia Earth is also the first multi-channel platform that offers individuals the opportunity to experience our planet’s problems through various media of art and technology.
“It is a platform that enables sustainability artists to express their concerns to the public and offers a space for open-mindedness with their unique storytelling approach,” said Abushullaih.
Ithra chose a more practical way of promoting Terra by getting it off the center building and on the street, “because this is specifically about environmental sustainability, so we expanded it outward. By working with our volunteer programs, we have acted in a variety of ways to practice sustainability, such as street or beach cleaning, to have positive and noticeable effects. “
Another aspect of Terra that makes it unique from other exhibits of sustainability is its holistic approach.
“It offers challenges and solutions through subtle suggestions and small amounts of knowledge that the visitor can take with them and possibly incorporate into their daily practices to improve the environment and reduce damage,” Abushullaih said.
The head of the Ithra Museum added that art is a great tool for raising awareness on various subjects.
“Artists have always shown an interest in the environment in their work throughout history,” Abushullaih said.
“In the last century, a specialized approach to art has emerged to shed light on these threats. Art is a great vehicle for imparting knowledge and it is a powerful tool for reaching the public and making difficult and hard information easy to digest. “
The exhibition is open to all ages and runs until the end of September. It hosts both Arabic and English speakers. More information can be found on the website https://www.ithra.com