Lacquer paint on rubber stamps mounted on aluminum
109 x 160 cm
Courtesy of the artist
b. 1973; Khamis Mushai, Saudi Arabia; lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Abdulnasser Gharem is among Saudi Arabia’s leading artists known for his politically and socially engaged large-scale works and installations...
b. 1973; Khamis Mushai, Saudi Arabia; lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Abdulnasser Gharem is among Saudi Arabia’s leading artists known for his politically and socially engaged large-scale works and installations that draw on his Muslim heritage. A former lieutenant colonel in the Saudi army, Gharem’s work engages with themes of control and authority.
His work Climate Refugee is made up of hundreds of tiny colored rubber stamps forming a map of the world. Concentrations of darker colored stamps represent the presence of climate refugees around the globe. Gharem lays bare the way the perpetual repetition of laws, maps, or artificial cultural differences exerts control over the subconscious, enforcing bureaucratic violence that is designed to tame.Upon closer observation, phrases are embedded in the stamps that include “Refugee camps are optimal forms of mercy killings.” In the work, Gharem highlights both the human responsibilities for the accelerating climate crisis, and those who will experience the greatest impact. His use of stamps carries additional meaning here, referencing the manner in which lives are governed by the stamp, a symbol of authority and approval.
Abdulnasser Gharem’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at the Los Angeles County Museum, the British Museum, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Venice, Sharjah, and Berlin Biennales. He is co-founder of Edge of Arabia, a Saudi Arabia-based non-profit social enterprise committed to improving understanding between the Middle East and western world through free exhibitions, publications, and public programming. His Gharem Studio based in Riyadh is dedicated to cultivating an independent Saudi art community.