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‘Culture shock’ exhibition attracts visitors in Saudi Arabia

Loud Art encourages exposes local young upcoming artists and gives them the opportunity to experiment, create, and showcase

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Loud Art was initiated in the Eastern Province two years ago. The concept was developed with Desert Designs and NTI for artists in Saudi Arabia. Quickly gaining momentum, the founders witnessed a huge following, appreciation and fast developments.

Collaborating with Nuqat this year, they celebrated the opening of Loud Art exhibition “executing culture shock”, a concept that was first introduced in Kuwait by Nuqat. Primarily known as ‘Nuqat Ala Al Huroof’ Nuqat was born in 2009 to build a platform of communication that hopes to help bridge gaps and educate minds in the Gulf.

Wakim Zeidan and Tala Saleh, spoke to Saudi Gazette about the collaboration and future of Saudi Arabia’s creative genre. Wakim, founder of Nuqat, believes art has drastically improved and changed in the past 10 years. “With many artists emerging across the GCC, setting up of museums, art galleries and conducting initiatives such as Art weeks, Design weeks and days we can say that things are moving in the right direction.

Yet all that lacks is “Creative Education” which we at Nuqat are trying to fill in.” He confessed Nuqat was born out of frustration in 2009. “A creative consortium of a couple of speakers was held at the time. Two of the participants, Hussa Al Humaidhi and Sara Al Nafisi, joined in, and then Dana Al Hilal joined as well. This started off with a proper larger, more impactful conference in 2010 and that grew into what Nuqat is today.

The four of us are now founding members. While growing, different members from different countries joined and are now activating Nuqat within their own communities. Primarily our Saudi Ambassadors are Tala Saleh and Raneem Al Farsi. Hence, Loud Art is our first collaboration in Saudi Arabia, led by Tala.”

Tala told Saudi Gazette that Saudi Arabia is evolving and people are becoming more aware of the arts and the importance of creativity. Going back to the beginning she said, “Hussa Al Humaidhi and I studied at the same university. We were both part of the graphic design program. In 2010, when Nuqat launched ‘Visual Pollution in the Arab world”, Hussa and Wakim contacted me while I was dong my masters in London to be a speaker during the conference and talk about my book, Marking Beirut. When I got to Kuwait and saw the dynamism, energy and hope in Nuqat, I couldn’t help but join. I wanted to be a part of this change and support my friends as well, and so I joined the team to spread the positivity and energy of change.

I was about to finish my masters and to be a part of such a community gave me something to come back to, to know that you can be a pioneer in the change and movement of the creative world in the Gulf.” She said her role as Nuqat’s KSA ambassador is to connect with like-minded creatives in KSA as she is the point of contact, if you need to reach Nuqat. “Also to spread our mission and vision throughout Saudi Arabia, to eventually be able to hold a Nuqat conference in KSA,” she added.

Tala said that by teaming up with entities that share the same passion and vision, as Loud Art, they are able to spread their message and emphasize on the importance of a collaboration set within a communal framework. “I think there is a large amount of opportunity today in Saudi Arabia for artists and creative, the question is finding the right guidance and outlet. It’s not so much a lack of facility rather than a difficulty and access. I believe there is a huge amount of support from the community, and I know a few people may argue with me about this point. But I believe there will always be those who support you and those who bring you down, you need to learn to ignore the latter in order to find the former.

Easier said than done but not impossible. If Saudi artists in the 60s and 70s and 80s got international recognition, why can’t we? We have a larger pool of access and we have social media now, we have educated citizens who studied art, art curating, art business, etc. It’s just a matter of finding them. That is where Nuqat comes in handy, we connect people with people, and we connect the minds that do think alike to each other, to create a larger pool of opportunity for both sides.”

Speaking of developing local artists and industries, Wakim said Nuqat’s main objective is to cultivate creative thinking in the Middle East through connecting, educating and execution. “Nuqat is taking a lead in the region on Creative Education. Our core activities have been happening in Kuwait, mostly workshops and lectures for now, but soon enough we have plans to diversify it into setting creative curriculums for schools, conducting cultural tourism, entertainment and organizing competitions across the Arab region, MENA and GCC.”

He said Nuqat does not just target the art market in particular. It aims more at the overall “Creative Education” sector, be it art, science, technology or engineering. “We all need to be thinking creatively to move forward with our communities.”

Wakim admitted that to increase and enhance contemporary art and culture production and awareness, it takes a lot of hard work. “We are already doing that through the conference, but starting collaborations with entities around the region will definitely help in reaching out to more people and thus help in creating the awareness. Of course, launching competitions and awarding people with potential is also a way to increase productivity, and this is why we have recently launch the first Bilingual Type Design Competition called Horouf in collaboration with 29LT Type Foundry.”

He said his biggest accomplishments till date was to be able to connect to more than 2,000 creatives through the conference and reaching out to more than 40,000 around the region. “And, having a wonderful team of more than 10 people of different Middle Eastern nationalities working together in harmony.”

According to Tala, Loud Art encourages and exposes local young upcoming artists, it gives them the opportunity to experiment, create, and showcase. “Executing Culture Shock, as a theme, I believe sits very well with the Saudi community, so we were curious to see how the Saudi youth and young artists react to such an idea. As a collaboration, we were able to work closely with locals and expose NUQAT to the local Saudi community.”

As for Nuqat’s future plans, she said: “We aim to reach as many people as possible, to spread our creative movement and give opportunity to the talented people that are struggling to find it or frustrated due to the lack of outlets to express. We aim to be a creative go to hub in the future, not just in KSA but all over the Middle East.”

For now, Nuqat will be launching the first bilingual type design competition in addition to publishing books, a Nuqat app that will support the events by providing exquisite educational content, supporting the launch of a project on cultural tourism in Kuwait and several others.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on July 12,2014.