Muhannad Shono in conversation with Reem Fadda

Muhannad Shono in conversation with Reem Fadda

Saudi Arabia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The Teaching Tree, 2022.

January 22, 2023
Muhannad Shono in conversation with Reem Fadda
Celebrating the release of The Teaching Tree exhibition catalogue

Multidisciplinary artist Muhannad Shono will be in conversation with the Curator of the 2022 National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia, Reem Fadda, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at Bayt Zainal in Jeddah’s Al Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to celebrate the launch of the exhibition catalogue accompanying The Teaching Tree published by Electa. The event coincides with the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale, also taking place in the city. The Teaching Tree was Shono’s monumental installation commissioned to represent the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia at the 59th International Venice Biennale in 2022.

The event will celebrate the successful culmination of the Biennale as a recent major milestone in Shono’s burgeoning career. It will see the artist discuss the ideas underpinning this significant commission at the Biennale as well as the overarching themes of Shono’s practice, together with the pavilion’s Curator and catalogue contributor, Reem Fadda and with an introduction by the pavilion’s Assistant Curator and catalogue coordinator and contributor, Rotana Shaker.

Beautifully illustrated with images of the artwork in-situ, the catalogue lends rich context to The Teaching Tree and the artist’s practice, through texts including essays, interviews, and a fictional narrative piece. Reflecting the collaborative nature of Shono’s approach to making, the catalogue is comprised of texts written by key Saudi and international contributors, from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, providing readers a sense of the deeply rooted community which is an integral value to the artist and his work.

The contributions to the catalogue are detailed below.

The Teaching Tree catalogue is introduced by His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture; and Dina Amin, CEO of the Visual Arts Commission, Commissioner of the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia at La Biennale di Venezia.

An opening curatorial essay by the pavilion’s curatorial team, Reem Fadda and Rotana Shaker, addresses the importance of recurring motifs and themes in Shono’s practice such as the drawn line, the colour black, and technology.

In conversation with artist, curator and writer Sara Raza, Shono delves into his use of the metaphor of the garden, utilising its potential for both utopian and dystopian interpretation.

An essay by curator and writer, Nat Muller examines The Teaching Tree’s effect on viewers, postulating that the installation’s ‘monstrous sensibilities’ convey strangeness and transformation, allowing viewers to envision brand new possibilities.

Noah Feehan, artist and roboticist, who collaborated on the artwork, gives insight into the design of the installation’s movement.

A fictional narrative by researcher and cultural project manager Hafsa Alkhudairi follows a character whose story parallels Shono’s own journey with creativity and struggle for agency.

Commissioned by the Visual Arts Commission, The Teaching Tree, a large-scale and ambitious installation made of painted black palm fronds, was created by Shono as a symbol of the power of the drawn line as an elemental expression of creativity, as well as an exploration of the propensity of the imagination to flourish. The 40-metre-long, organically shaped structure was animated by pneumatics, appearing to rhythmically breathe, and speaks to the drawn line’s potential for both creation and destruction.

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Saudi Arabia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
January 22, 2023

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