Al Tamarah as a way to create a new context conventional notions of hospitality in Saudi Arabia

 

This proposed practice-based research study examines how the original culture can create a social space and how participants can create a new context for this cultural tradition if it is re-presented in a new location. Bourriaud (2002) suggested that relational aesthetics is an urgent way to generate a welcome for acquaintances rather than simply betting on more happy tomorrows (Bishop, 2004). I shall use the date in my practices as an example of the Saudi hospitality culture and re-present it in unconventional social spaces which will create a new coding for this cultural act after participants adopt it and interact through it in a new location. I shall consider the works of Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lucy and Jorge Orta and Saeed al-Kamhawi to re-present date-based installations in new social spaces. Drawing practices have been a key part of my research and reflect the history of this act of hospitality, its locations, and its forms

 

Question

 

How does participant interaction lead to the adoption of original culture in a new location to coding this culture? And how this social coding can determine the meaning of this practice?  

 

Aim

To create a social space for participants who are creating a new context for original culture after they interact with this Saudi culture.

Objectives: To

  1. create artworks exploring European notions about Saudi hospitality by repositioning an original culture in a new place to consider its potential in creating social spaces through participant interaction.

  2. focus on how a traditional cultural signifier is brought into play through human interaction and to determine how the new form responds to imposed movement.

  3. investigate the meanings and functions associated with the date and use it as an essential element representing traditional Saudi concepts of hospitality concerning Saudi geographical history and its connection with the Bedouin people.

Al Tamarah is the Arabic name of the date fruit which has been a vital and unique symbol of hospitality in Saudi Arabia since at least 7000BC (Lunda, 1987; Omer, 2010). In Islam, the home is regarded as a place where humility is shown to neighbours and to visitors and where hospitality is offered and relationships between family members and the broader society are strengthened (Aird et al., 2014). When visitors enter a Saudi home, they are welcomed with dates and Arabic coffee, the simplest examples of hospitality drawn from centuries-old traditional Arab tribal culture and the most potent example of creating social spaces, relationships, connections and cultural exchanges between people. Aird et al. (2014) said that the home is a place with opportunities to extend hospitality to neighbours and improve relationships with society. A’ishah reported the Prophet (ﷺ) PBUH as saying that a family which has no dates will be hungry (Al-Albani), which implies that dates had become essential food for Bedouins.

 

Methodology

I shall use qualitative methods, shaped by observation and documentation to investigating hospitality and social-relational dynamics:

1. Images / Films: I shall take photographs by camera and scanner and make short films about dates and their place in Saudi hospitality, then present their reflection on different bodies, sites and materials to see the meanings intrinsic to the date.

2. Drawings: I shall draw date-related elements, including sites, maps and social life inspired by the natural landscape and geography of date-palms, including the beginning of its relationship with the Bedouins, to connect the past with the present.

3. Installations: Using art for audience participation, I shall start by displaying my work conventionally and watch how people interact through eating it or being attracted to it and comparing its position with the original environment. I shall monitor the results and then produce a replay of the dates in different locations which require physical and sensory interaction from the audience.

4. This study will generate artwork and written descriptive analysis. The final experience will result from analysing the audience's previous reactions with the meanings which have been reached, interpreted and applied in an interactive installation.