Ayman Zedani & Ahmad Makia

Between the Heavens and the Earth series, 2019 – 2020
Biofilms, variable dimensions, new commission
The Firmaments, Ca. 603, Ma’in
The Irascible Animal Soul, Ca. 617, Tayma
The Beardless Youth, Ca. 603, Yathrib (present-day Medina)
The Scribe, Ca. 619, Mecca
The Miser, Ca. 601, Taif

Between the Heavens and the Earth: The Golden Age of Polytheistic Material Culture in Pre-Islamic is a product of the cultural reforms that are currently underway in Saudi Arabia and aligned Gulf countries. In recent years, these regions have been celebrating the pre-Islamic, polytheistic Arabian material culture via curated exhibitions at renowned institutions, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as more intimate venues, such as the Al-Ula heritage site in Saudi Arabia (both inaugurated in 2017). This is truly remarkable, as the local public has not had the opportunity to view objects related to its pre-Islamic heritage for centuries, as doing so was long considered sacrilegious. Between the Heavens and the Earth aims to extend this ideological shift by staging a one-of-a-kind display of pre-Islamic masks. Produced during the muted golden age of polytheistic material culture in pre-Islamic Arabia, the masks exemplify the rivalling styles of artistic production during the early seventh century: pagan human figuration and Islamic aniconism. The installation highlights the contemporary search for a new, Gulf-based, namely Saudi Arabian selfhood through the appropriation and reimagination of pre- Islamic material culture.

Text provided by artist
Co-Commissioned by Qarshi Industries, Athr Gallery (Jeddah), and Lahore Biennale Foundation