Women, Art, and Power
When I was flying in the sky of Al-'Ula amidst awe-inspiring mountains and a quiet desert, my top priority was for the photographer to capture a captivating image that showcased the nimbleness of my acrobatic maneuvers. However, currently, this is a challenging feat due to my absence from the gym for approximately a year, resulting in difficulty controlling my long arms and legs in the air and on the ground, Additionally, I strive to ensure my facial expressions convey the enthusiasm, delight, and felicity I experience, along with my masculine and athletic prowess.
There are multiple purposes for this photo. It may be the main image that represents the journey of visiting Al-'Ula, and I plan to send it to the hotel manager as a thoughtful message. whom I couldn't meet because he was on a business trip, to be a well-thought-out message loaded with meanings that I want to convey to him without saying them explicitly, such as (my cheerful, active, youthful, and elegant personality, as well as being an important guest that needs to be taken care of in the future). These messages must be conveyed smoothly and seamlessly.
This photo also will reflect my personality on Instagram, and I will share it with my family and friends' groups via WhatsApp. However, I feel that this single picture carries a significant burden of responsibilities, requirements, and expectations.
How did you convey so much depth and hope in just one picture?
Since I noticed that everyone was taking this photo of themselves in Al-'Ula, and because humans naturally crave a sense of connection and belonging with each other, I felt compelled to prove that I too had been there.
But, how did this particular image gain such a widespread influence? The answer lies in the power of the concept it represents. This concept was brought to life by Manal Al-Dowayan, an artist from Saudi Arabia. Through her art, how was she able to convey her ideas? This article delves into the subject of the power of art for women or the power of women in art, and wherever the journey may take us.
At the Islamic Biennale in Jeddah, women were highly visible and influential in various roles including as organizers, coordinators, artists, and guides. Throughout history, women have had a strong association with art and creative forms of expression, while this link is almost absent for men, in fields such as visual arts, literature, or other expressive arts. The unique aspect of the Biennale was the powerful yet unspoken influence of women in shaping the event. Professor Sumayya Vally, the main curator of the Biennale, is a Muslim woman from South Africa with Indian roots, and often adopts an investigative approach based on narrative, ritualistic, and forgotten elements in her work.
Through her calm and serene demeanor, piercing stare, and ethereal composure, she communicates profound and significant messages without uttering a single word. Sumayya might not be aware of the enormous strength she possesses through her composure, yet I am convinced that her innate feminine instinct recognizes it and has utilized her millions of years of experience in quiet resilience.
Power can take on various meanings and forms, but it's only women who possess the entire spectrum of strengths, be it physical, humanistic, serene, or gentle-spoken.
Scheherazade's ability to rescue both herself and her kingdom from the tyranny of Shahryar did not depend on physical strength since it has its limitations. If she had relied on physical force, she could only have saved herself, and the consequences could have been dire if another tyrant took Shahryar's place who could come and exact revenge on all women. Nevertheless, Scheherazade's feminine intelligence opted for a more challenging and long-lasting strategy. Her strength resided in her ability to express herself skillfully, her mastery of conversation, her amiable presence, and her composure and confidence.
The Biennale's success and impact for myself and many others were attributed to the strength of the artworks, which were founded on our hidden internal emotions. For instance, Sara Ibrahim's work on the idea of seeking rain, Norah al-Eisa's art on the sounds of the Holy Mosque in Makkah - which I call the clamor of piety (They are invoking their Lord with hope and fear), and Farah al-Bahbahani's joyful presentation in the Medina pavilion of the beautiful names of Allah, or Basma Felemban majestic portrayal of the layers of the call to prayer is also a notable example. There are more examples than could be covered in an opinion article. Even if I misunderstood the intended meaning of the artistic works, what is important is that they connected with the soul and evoked emotions that men may find difficult to access or comprehend. In my opinion, this hidden power or true strength belongs to women.
In conclusion, Allah, the Mighty has acknowledged the power of women through His statement that "This must be ˹an example˺ of the cunning of you ˹women˺! Indeed, your cunning is so shrewd" It's important to understand that the term "cunning" isn't necessarily negative in all its connotations since God has attributed it to Himself, and He is faultless in all His characteristics. As the Quran states, "Surely they plot a plot. And I am planning a plan"
The poet Prince Khaled Al-Faisal was truthful when he said:
I am defeated by the wide eye even though I'm a peer to the knights
And I conceal my wounds of stabs, but love reveals them