BATES COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART
OLIN ARTS CENTER
75 RUSSELL STREET
28 Oct, 2016
Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia, presented New England’s first exhibition of contemporary art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at The Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.
Bates College Museum Director, Dan Mills, comments, “In America, very little is known about contemporary Saudi art and artists. Media accounts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are frighteningly predictable. With this exhibition, we have a rare opportunity to gain critical new perspectives on Saudi society and culture from a group of perceptive young artists who are challenging conventions and exploring the limits of what is possible in Saudi culture.”
The artists featured in Phantom Punch create smart, topical, funny, culturally resonant, and technically savvy work. Like Muhammad Ali’s surprising and lightning-fast 1965 knockout of Sonny Liston in Lewiston, experiencing this exhibition and related programing is a cultural “Phantom Punch”, a complete surprise that American, Maine, and even Lewiston audiences didn’t see coming.
The artists featured in Phantom Punch use an exciting variety of media — calligraphy, painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance, animation, and comedy — to explore topics and issues that shape the lives of Saudis throughout the Kingdom. These include the role of women and the place of foreign workers in Saudi society, the impact of oil on the Saudi economy, the relationship between American popular culture and traditional Saudi values, and the effect of urbanization, globalization, and commercialization on Saudi cities.
Phantom Punch marked the fourth stop on a multi-city Saudi artist’s tour of the United States, and was supported by King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (iThra). The tour, which launched in summer 2016 at the Station Museum in Houston, Texas before traveling to Aspen, Colorado and San Francisco, California, aims to generate people-to-people dialogue and better understanding between nations. Following a run at the Bates College Museum of Art, the tour will continue to other major cities across the country.