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The Tethered

010_04 / 17 September 2016


Sama Alshaibi

The Tethered, 2012

8 mins 49 secs (excerpt 2 mins 3 secs)


The Tethered (2012) is visually realized within 48 circles, a nod to the context of the birth of Israel in the year of 1948. The archived moments of historical strife and personal struggle are set on a stage of repetition, time and juxtaposition. Through twelve years of personal video documentation, Alshaibi's project extracts the connected yet contentious history from the familiar and often crude depiction of the on-going Palestinian/Israeli conflict.


The Tethered re-examines the struggles of the ordinary and extraordinary daily life of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, as well as the occupying forces who are contentiously engaged in the fight for power and control. Through slow and repeated actions of mediated moments, and a focus on details lost in the normalized hum of the mainstream media, The Tethered sets 'the cause' on an unfamiliar stage and through an unusual lens. By doing so, Alshaibi's video demands a humanistic reconsideration of the ignored, unexceptional, and often marginalized mediated plight of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

About the author

Sama Alshaibi

Sama Alshaibi is an artist whose multi-media artworks disinters negotiations in spaces of conflict: the causation and aftermath of war and exile, the clashes between nation and citizenry, the vexatious dynamics of humans competing for land, resources and power, and finally, one's own internal struggle with mental entrapment through self-policing emotions such as fear. Although she frequently uses her own body, Alshaibi is rarely representing herself directly. The body situates itself in allegorical contexts, trapped in time and space. The body juxtaposed with symbol, backdrop and gesture, constructs contexts of her physicality. The body as evolving metaphor. The body as site. The absence of her body in her artwork is still the context of the body absent.

Alshaibi has had over ten international solo exhibitions and her artworks are widely exhibited in prominent international biennials, film festivals, museums/institutions, galleries and fairs, including the 55th Venice Biennial, VIII Tashkent Biennale of Contemporary Art (2016), 2014 FotoFest International Biennial (Houston), Honolulu Biennial 2014 (Hawaii), MoMA (NYC), Edge of Arabia (London), Arab World Institute (Paris), Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco), The Bronx Museum (NYC), Paris Photo (Paris) and Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver). Aperture Foundation published her first monograph, Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In – it was released in March of 2015 in conjunction with her solo exhibition with Ayyam Gallery in London. Recent and upcoming solo exhibitions include Sama Alshaibi: Silsila at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (Arizona, USA, 2016) and at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University (NY, USA, 2017), Collapse at Ayyam Gallery in Dubai (2015) and vs. Him at Lawrie Shabibi Gallery in Dubai (2012). Her art residencies include Darat al Funun (Amman), A.M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah) and Lightwork (NY). Alshaibi was awarded two national teaching awards and granted the title of 'University of Arizona's 1885 Distinguished Scholar'. She has been awarded the 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholars Fellowship to the West Bank, Palestine. She is currently Chair and Full Professor of Photography and Video Art, University of Arizona, where she has taught since 2006. Alshaibi is exclusively represented by Ayyam Gallery.