I was born just before the morning call for prayers in Muslim’s holiest place on earth, Makkah, Saudi Arabia. I went to Lancaster Boys school in England, I wore a suit and tie every day, and attended school assembly in the morning (Christian morning prayers) and Friday prayers in the afternoon. I studied at the university of Birmingham, and I visited my family in Makkah every summer. I grew up defined by two contrasting cultures. Over time I picked and chose the ‘values’ that appealed to me, yet I still identify myself as a Muslim and as an Arab. I found the grass is indeed greener in both sides of the fence. Every day I wake up and I see the world full of ignorance, and I realise knowledge and empathy are so important. I wonder how does the world see me, and how do I see the world.
The Middle East is going through ‘Dark Ages’ and you might wonder how does someone belonging to that world feel, think, or act?
Explaining The Performance :
Technology brings strangers so close to each other over the Internet. Pushing us to accept a new definition of Personal Space, that is much smaller, and transparent yet much distant and detached! You cannot hide anymore. Yet you can “log off” when you want to. Looking at a bread queue in Egypt, or an Arab gathering in Dubai, people are so close to each other yet very comfortable, they embrace it and joke about it. in Eastern cultures, closeness bears respect and commonality, while in the Western world, distance and individualism bear respect and appreciation, this is in line with the “American Dream” and Capitalists school where “I have to win,while others might lose”. Nevertheless, they seem to go along with accepting minimal privacy in the digital world.
Indeed there is irony in this: We regularly see the image of people standing so close to each other in a Metro or a Bus in a rainy day, but stay silent, eyes not crossing each-other, as if the person next to us doesn’t exists! We don’t feel very comfortable, but then technology forces us to break that silence: we all look at our phones, giving a “like” and commenting on a strangers holiday bikini photo, we gaze with comfort.
I therefore, made this performance where I stood inside a glass showcase on top of a shipment pellet to invite the audience to my personal space and spend a few moments to allow themselves to ask the questions that first come to their mind or just talk to me, and seek to
understand, and hopefully leave with something new.
As you can see the participant had to stand very close to me. To be in my 'eastern' personal space in a western world. How will they react you may ask?
Well watch and see.