CURATOR Moya Lawson
New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote, making 2018 the 125-year anniversary of women's suffrage. To mark the occasion, City Gallery presents the work of a woman artist from the last country to give women the vote, Saudi Arabia. Arwa Alneami is a key figure in Saudi Arabian art, exhibiting in and increasingly beyond the Kingdom. Her very presence as a contemporary artist challenges the restrictions her country places on female self-expression, as does her work.
Never Never Land (2014) consists of surreptitiously made videos and photos of women spending their evenings at an amusement park in Abha where their experiences are constantly policed by a strict set of rules, prohibiting screaming and wardrobe malfunctions. One video shows women—who were only later permitted to drive on the road—driving dodgem cars, sometimes carefully, sometimes recklessly, bumping into each other with illicit delight. Another finds them muting their shrieks on the Drop Zone, while holding down their abayas. In a country where activism is curtailed, Alneami offers a wry commentary on the position of women.
Arwa Alneami: Never Never Land is curated by Assistant Curator Moya Lawson.