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010_06 / 22 November 2016


Sama Alshaibi


7 mins 19 secs

(excerpt: 1 min 48 secs)


from the project Silsila (2009–2016)


Silsila – Arabic for 'chain' or 'link'– is a multi-media project depicting Alshaibi's seven-year cyclic journey through the significant deserts and endangered water sources of the Middle East and North African region and across to the bountiful waters the Maldives. By linking the performances in the deserts and waters of the historical Islamic world with the nomadic traditions of the region, and the travel journals of the great 14th century Eastern explorer, Ibn Battuta, Alshaibi seeks to unearth a story of continuity within the context of a threatened future. Silsila is a story of a shared history and soon to be written future - the tales of the climate refugee and its geographic voice, and our search for connection with each other as interdependent peoples and nations plagued by an unthinkable future.

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.

Chapters in this series