Ahaad Alamoudi is one of the artists featured in Image & Movement, a specially curated selection of works by female, Saudi artists who work with live performance, choreography and movement. The two-part series will be available to watch as part of Shubbak Festival 2021 from 21st June, 12pm (BST) and is complemented by the premiere of Sarah Brahim's Our Cup is Broken followed by a discussion with all the artists from Image & Movement on 22nd June, 6pm (BST).
Alamoudi grew up between England and Saudi Arabia and is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, London and the Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah. Her work addresses history and representation. By studying Saudi Arabia's reforming ethnography and showcasing it in the work she produces, she pushes the boundaries of Saudi Arabia's history.
In Those who don't know falcons grill them (2018) a cohort of young, male dancers perform the Khabayti, a traditional dance from Saudi Arabia's West Coast. The choreographed pageantry of sword-wielding men and boys was once used in preparation for war and is now performed at social gatherings. Donning custom-made garments patterned with falcons - the national bird of Saudi Arabia, which represents courage, power and national identity - Alamoudi's dancers are driven by the sounds of the mizmar, Appropriating the format of a music video, she remixes references to traditional Arab culture and, as a female director, subverts the male gaze so typical of the genre by using male performers.
We asked Ahaad Alamoudi to answer some quick questions in 10 minutes to find out more about her.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I knew that I wanted to go into the arts from my young age. My mother is an artist and educator and I have been around art ever since I can remember.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
From a young age, my grandfather would always tell us “من عمل عملاً فليتقنه” . I was always taught that whatever I choose to do in life, that I had to strive to do it to the best of my abilities. This has been something that I have carried with me throughout my life, and career, and is something I try to work towards.
Who is your biggest influence and why?
My mother has influenced everything that I am. She is my best friend, and is someone I will always look up to. Everything I know including the traditions I have learned, was through her. Her involvement in the arts, as an artist and educator has governed who I am and the work that I do.
Who is the one person you would like to have dinner with and why?
Rabeh Saqr because his names translates to Winning Falcon, I also am a huge fan of his music.
Where is your favourite place on this planet?
My grandfather had a farm. We recently watched videos of us running around, feeding the animals and just playing. Growing up around it was such an adventure, it held so many memories, and our visits there informed a lot of who I am today.
What’s currently on your playlist?
Steve Lacy, Rabeh Saqr and Oklou
What gives you inspiration?
Random moments and things I see in the streets, objects and people I am surrounded by; my friends and family.
What is your favourite film of all time?
The Fifth Element
What’s your favourite meal?
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
Ahlam, she is a recurring figure within my work.
What is the truest, most beautiful life you can imagine?
Every Friday, after the Friday prayers, we have a family dinner at my grandmother's house. The whole family gets dressed up and each family member makes a dish of their choosing that aligns with the main meal of the day. The meal is shared with the kids and the grandkids, this tradition carries with it the yummiest meals I have ever had and the most loving memories. It is a day of sharing that I love and I look forward too after a long week of work.
Any life that includes this is a true and beautiful life.
What was your first job as an artist/curator/producer?
I was a central academic advisor at Dar Al-Hekma University. I advised and worked on students and staff schedules for a whole year.
Who or what has been your biggest influence?
My younger brother Abdullah Alamoudi.