Raja’a Khalid / American Envoy, 2013, Archival Inkjet Print, 94 cm W x 77 cm H, Ed 1 of 5 / Courtesy of The Third Line and the Artist
With an intention to question the objectivity of certain public documents, this body of work focuses on how the discovery of Middle Eastern oil in the 1930s was depicted in popular Western press at the time, and the American perception of Gulf oil companies in the forties and fifties.
The photographs in Southeast to Armageddon acquire a type of bizarre topical relevance with the artist’s retrospective investigation. They demand an ironic distance from the viewer to force him or her into asking how the term ‘Arabian’ functioned in the American mass consciousness, following the discovery of oil. The publications photographed here were for a very specific, western audience, and they are pedagogical to that end. Seen today, however, they make explicit that which has already been implicit in the relationship between the Middle East and the West, and raise questions about the highly problematic politics of representation at work in the original documents.
The answers, if these photographs can provide them, will be neither clear nor complete. In fact the artist anticipates for Southeast to Armageddon to be troublesome and somewhat jarring. With that she aims to dismantle any myths about the so-called ‘simplicity’ or ‘transparency’ of the photograph or the written word, reaffirming Walter Benjamin’s assertion that all cultural documents are inherently records of ‘barbarism.’
Raja’a Khalid / Aramco Educates, 2013, Archival Inkjet Print, 112 cm W x 84 cm H / Courtesy of The Third Line and the Artist
Raja’a Khalid / Southeast to Armageddon, 2013, Archival Inkjet Print, 112 cm W x 81 cm H / Courtesy of The Third Line and the Artist
Raja’a Khalid / Ancient Battleground_2013_Archival Inkjet Print_112 cm W x 81 cm H / Courtesy of The Third Line and the Artist
Raja’a Khalid (b. 1984, Jeddah) received her MFA in Fine Art from Cornell University in 2013, where she was also the recipient of the Cornell Council for the Arts grant in 2012. Her studio practice is centered on ‘A Minor Histories Archive,’ her never-ending Arcades Project-style collection of found documents in which she explores the contemporary histories of the Middle East and South Asia. She has participated in group shows in New York and Dubai including the White Box Gallery, NY; the Gary Snyder Project Space, NY; the Traffic Gallery, Dubai; and returns for a second time to The Third Line’s Project Space with Southeast to Armageddon. Raja’a lives and works in Dubai.
The Third Line
The Third Line is a Dubai based art gallery that represents contemporary Middle Eastern artists locally, regionally and internationally. The Third Line also hosts non-profit, alternative programs to increase interest and dialogue in the region. Represented artists include: Abbas Akhavan, Ala Ebtekar, Amir H. Fallah, Arwa Abouon, Babak Golkar, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Farhad Moshiri, Fouad Elkoury, Golnaz Fathi, Hassan Hajjaj, Hayv Kahraman, Huda Lutfi, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Laleh Khorramian, Lamya Gargash, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Pouran Jinchi, Rana Begum, Sahand Hesamiyan, Sherin Guirguis, Shirin Aliabadi, Slavs and Tatars, Sophia Al-Maria, Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Youssef Nabil.