Boogie's Retail, Aspen, Colorado, US
30 Jun, 2016
On the occasion of Aspen Ideas Festival 2016, Gharem Studio, in collaboration with Gonzo Gallery and The Open Mind Project opened the major exhibition: Gonzo Arabia: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, in the legendary Boogie’s building in the heart of downtown Aspen. Gonzo Arabia was realised through support from King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, and presents a cross-generational survey of contemporary art from the Kingdom, providing insights into the Saudi culture through the creativity and vision of some the most influential Saudi artists of their generation.
In the spirit of the late, Colorado-based journalist, Hunter S. Thompson — pioneer of Gonzo journalism and champion of truth over fact — the participating Saudi artists have embedded themselves within their societies and harnessed the potential of art as a cultural commentary, satire and social critique; through Gonzo-style performances and storytelling, they shared these experiences with audiences in Aspen.
Founder of Gharem Studio, Abdulnasser Gharem, comments: “The artists in Gonzo Arabia present a new intellectual paradigm that utilizes unique concepts and terminology to define the artists’ role within society. Rather than analyzing art and society separately, the artists confront art as a reflection of society, positioning themselves as its mirrors.”
The exhibition was held in a re-imagined annex of the original Boogies Diner, an iconic Aspen landmark for the last 25 years. Seen as a historical and cultural icon, the American diner is a pit-stop on highways across the US, connecting travellers with locals and provided a fitting backdrop for this experimental platform for cross-cultural dialogue and engagement.
Gonzo Arabia was the second stop of a multi-city Saudi artists tour of the United States. Aspen – once known only for its snow-capped mountain ranges and high-end ski resort – is now a booming cultural hub, with its own contemporary art museum and annual Ideas Festival, considered one of the most influential gatherings for local and global innovators to stimulate creativity. Using the artworks as a springboard for nation-to-nation dialogue, this leg of the tour aimed to enable better understanding between Saudi Arabia and key influencers in the United States.