Waheeda Malullah is set to kick off the new season at Al Riwaq gallery with an exhibition about women and children
Time Out Bahrain staff
We see an empty street, just a blank wall, that could resemble any historic part of Bahrain. A football appears in a small opening, hanging as if in mid-air, then several other balls bounce into view. A Bahraini man and woman in national dress, the contrast of black and white enhanced by the lack of colour in the film itself, walk past each other at varying speeds, altering their interactions with each other, their environment and the ball, sometimes riding a donkey. And then the children appear, running left and right, a sea of energy and playfulness. Then they hide beneath a red net, and more footballs bounce across the scene.
Such is the visual work of Bahrain artist Waheeda Malullah. Her short film, Play, described above, is just one example of her fascination with women and children. ‘I like the innocence of children, and I like to make a statement about the female role in society,’ she tells us, explaining why they appear so often in her video and photographic works. Later this month, Waheeda will delve into these subjects further when she unveils an all new exhibition detailing these themes at the newly refurbished Al Riwaq gallery.
Waheeda is one of the most prominent visual artists in Bahrain. When we meet her, she enthusiastically shows us her work. We see staged photographs, some individual, some part of a larger series, and some actually shot in sequence. Male and female stereotypes are challenged, and children feature regularly. Football is a prominent theme also, as Waheeda once wanted to be a footballer herself but felt challenged due it being thought of predominantly as a masculine sport – the idea also brings teamwork into play, which is a metaphor for family.
In one sequence of black and white images, we see a woman with her back to us, dressed in a white robe. As Waheeda clicks through, black material is placed over the white in stages until there is no more of the original dress on display. Then the background too fades to black until the final image where nothing can be made out at all. We wonder what statement is being made about the role in of an Islamic woman living in contemporary Bahrain.
The new exhibition is still in the ideas stage, according to Waheeda, and she sketches her ideas quickly as they appear. We look forward to seeing what takes shape.
Waheeda Malullah’s exhibition will be on display at the refurbished Al Riwaq gallery, Adliya at the end of October, exact dates to be confirmed. See www.alriwaqgallery.org nearer the time. The new premises also feature a workshop area and a café.
Painting with colour and music
The second event in Elham’s new arts season will take place this month at Albareh Gallery on October 27. The idea of getting visitors more involved also continues, with artist Shabana Feroza sketching faces from the crowd throughout the evening, and there will be a chance to see some of her oil paintings. Musical accompaniment will be provided by the JAM Project, who perform for the first time in Bahrain. There’s emerging new talent in the form of Sara Aradi, who will present a series of her paintings, and Ahmed Al Shaikh will recite his own Arabic poetry.