Exhibition
25 September 2022–25 November 2022

Talaliya by Sawsan Al Bahar

25 September 2022–25 November 2022 | Firetti Contemporary

Talal, in Arabic, is a ruin or a trace of a home; and Atlal, plural, are what is left behind once inhabitants of a place leave. In this solo show, Al Bahar presents a series of drawings and a large-scale installation that showcase the artist’s preoccupation with intangible traces and remains. Looking at ghosts and remnants left over by her family, Al Bahar attempts to make sense of her personal history and links her experience to that of Arab Diasporas who share the artist’s existential trouble and her loss of place and permanence.

Starts 25 September 2022

Ends 25 November 2022

Venue Firetti Contemporary

Warehouse 29

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Talaliya by Sawsan Al Bahar

Curated by Celine Azem

September 25 to November 25, 2022 at Firetti Contemporary

Firetti Contemporary is thrilled to announce the opening of Talaliya by Syrian artist, Sawsan Al Bahar.

Talal, in Arabic, is a ruin or a trace of a home; and Atlal, plural, are what is left behind once inhabitants of a place leave. In this solo show, Al Bahar presents a series of drawings and a large-scale installation that showcase the artist’s preoccupation with intangible traces and remains. Looking at ghosts and remnants left over by her family, Al Bahar attempts to make sense of her personal history and links her experience to that of Arab Diasporas who share the artist’s existential trouble and her loss of place and permanence.

In ancient Arabic poetry, standing over the ruins, Al Waqfa Al Talaliya, or Al Wuqoof ‘Ala Al Atlal is a prominent poetic practice, a ritual of reflection and mourning. Arab poets, standing on the ruins of past homes of loved ones long gone, recite their lines amid the desert sands. This type of poem begins by describing the home, its context and landscape, and then its traces and leftovers - erased by wind, carved by rain, invaded by grass and vegetation.

Well-known Arab poets from this ancient time include Umru’ Al Qays, Turfah bin Al Abd, and Amru bin Kulthoom; through their ‘talal’ these poets express, in sincerity, their reality: a life of constant journeying, leaving and loss. It is thus, no wonder, that this poetic impulse evolved from the harsh requirements of living in the desert, and from the perpetual yearning for a past home and simultaneous search for a new one.

Inspired by these Ancient Arab poets, Al Bahar repeats this practice in an artistic rather than literal form, standing at her ruins: a collection of words, memories and evocations. Reflecting on the departures in her family’s history - Al Bahar composes works to reach across time and connect contemporary life with ancient experience, referring to the cathartic practice and reckoning with the losses of her past.

In a contemporary gesture that references Al Waqfa Al Talaliya, Al Bahar stands not at the atlal of her loved ones, but at the atlal of their spirit; at the leftovers of their departures; and at the remnants of their yearning and their memories; in works that are charged with content taken from their lives.

Collectively these works construct a metaphorical space where the artist recollects her loss, a loss inherited that remains, and links her to the generational displacements and departures in her family’s history. At the core of this exhibition, the artist’s fear of death and destruction is laid bare.