The Date with Other Objects:
Every day, when I am searching, thinking and writing about my idea, I ask myself why I used the date as a symbol of hospitality when there are other cultural symbols of hospitality, such as Arabic coffee, which are offered to welcome people, and I wonder if it helps me to understand the notion of hospitality.
I think about how the audience can understand my work and I try to find answers to any questions which they might find interesting in this research, so I have tried to make different studies of dates. One of these is the photographs shown here. I therefore decided to explore a series of comparisons which might enable me to find the interpretation which I am seeking.
I chose other cultural elements which have a value in my culture and which are also classified as food so that I can compare these together and see what meanings the comparisons bring. I examined the date alongside Arabic coffee, saffron and cardamom.
Date with Cardamom.
Cardamom is a green spice which is often added to Arabic coffee.
Initially, I saw the cardamom seeds as similar to the date seeds, which made me think that cardamom is a complementary element in this image. The green colour links it to a plant, to grass and to a natural place, which represents the date as a mountain surrounded by green pastures. It is like an aromatic plant which gives the area a rich aroma and this is clearly demonstrated by the essential use of cardamom in my culture.
Date with Arabic Coffee.
Arabic coffee is yellow and is often served with dates.
The colour and texture of the Arabic coffee in this image confers a powerfully substantial effect of boosting the photographs in which the date appears, taking on the form of a tent and a mountain in the desert. In addition, I saw that the date still has interesting details, wrinkles, immensity and a specific sense; it is like something which has a long age, or an old building or an historical place.
Date with Saffron.
Saffron is red and is often added to Arabic coffee.
Saffron has a strong red colour and is much more expensive than dates. It was very interesting for me to put it with a date to see what meaning is associated with this comparison.
At the start, I treated the date and saffron as equal elements in my art work. But after observing the relationship between them, I saw that it was not an equivalent relationship because they were not identical in scale, so I tried to increase the amount of saffron so that I could balance the equation and understand why the date is a symbol of hospitality in my culture.
I could still see the details expressed in the date which show the strength, greatness and toughness, and this makes saffron a complementary element to the date and also increases the value of the date by appearing to represent the grass around a date palm tree.
This comparison experiment showed a highly spatial expression matching feelings, emotions, and memories associated with a place. It was like exploring the cultural notion and meaning of hospitality through three cultural elements associated with the natural medium of the date, Arabic coffee, saffron and cardamom, which are embodied in the memory which translates themes of cultural identity and memory. The results took the form of spaces and places for the date in an original place: the desert, the ancient home of the Arabs.
This work inspired me to explore the comparisons further by embodying other elements which evoke culture, memory, places and history in both the virtual location of images and in traditional hospitality.
Zahra Al-Ghamdi is a Saudi artist who strives to revive and explore Saudi identity, memory and culture through architecture. She showcases ancient history by collecting natural environmental elements such as clay, rocks, leather, shells and water and creatively displaying them in different places.
Her specific site-work ‘What Lies Behind the Walls’ in Desert X (see Figure 13) shows the connection between the desert landscape and architecture through a sculpture which echoes a traditional building and expresses the emotion and memories related to her culture in the form of a monolith fertile with cement, soils and dyes specific to each region.
In this experience, Al Ghamdi evokes the history in outside space in another place which is not the same as her original culture place; she seeks to share her culture with the world, and also I think that she included a message asking us to open the doors and to start to remove barriers.
(What Lies Behind the Walls)
Desert X 2021, Palm Spring / California
The expereaince of "The date with other cultural elements." inspired me to use these elements in new situation after I saw it evoke the places that related to it in my culture, like the desert, which presents it for my kids in another way as the material between there hands in trying to create a new context that may be can be creating this change.
I thought to place the date in a new situation which differs from what it in my culture as a food or drink to welcome the people
I presented it to my kids with traditional cultural accompaniments to the date, Arabic coffee, saffron, and cardamom. I have been trying to see what it can create from these elements if I installed it in a new way. I saw my kids was starting to play with these materials as they in play spaces.
I find this experience transferred the place in playing site, my kids was dealing with coffee as sands and the date they playing with as bodies, homes, these moments created a social space that I seek it which helped me to find a new meaning that reflects these elements, like toys or a play area for my children.
so, Can hospitality include the concept of play?
It's very exciting for me to get this meaning through this experience.
This experiment inspired me to explore more deeply the idea of embodying different elements which can evoke the culture, memory, places and history in a virtual location in addition to the traditional hospitality places which I share with my children; I think that a different expression is created which will remind us of the family places in Saudi which are filled with hospitality and connections and enable us to live it in the current new place where we are now.