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“The Khashoggi Story: Wikipedia 25” at Zoot Coffee
October 21, 2019 @ 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
October 1-31, 2019
31 Elm Street, Camden, Maine
Thu – Tu 7-4pm
Contact: Kenny Cole, Artist/Curator: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Khashoggi Story: Wikipedia 25″
One year ago on October 2, 2018 a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered after he entered the Turkish embassy in Istanbul in order to obtain an official document for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. His remains have never been located. Jamal Khashoggi was a critical voice against the Saudi Government for their political persecution of journalists and progressives.
There have been hundreds of journalists murdered in the modern era. What makes the Kashoggi murder any more significant? In the experiment that is our corporate democracy, this must now be the first time that a leader of our country has publicly shrugged his shoulders and admitted that commerce trumps human rights… a verb that is now personified into a being. Trump stated that the 2017 Saudi Arms Deal was more important than speaking out against human rights: “After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. “ – “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
On exhibit are a selection of gouache drawings that represent the colleagues, compatriots and fellow dissidents that Khashoggi tried to speak out about and help, some of who are currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia by MBS (Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, as part of his brutal crack down on critical voices. I view the Khashoggi murder as an act involving two players, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, one commits the crime and the other fails to act against this crime. The dynamic that animates this relationship between these two players is driven by commerce, pure and simple. For the gouache drawings I then decided to guide my imagery based on the kind of imagery that comes up when one does an Internet search for images using the key words “corporate achievement”. Added to this I looked at insignias, emblems and flags within both country’s various governmental departments, agencies and branches and all together began to create imagery that was mostly symmetrical, often incorporates pyramids, stars, laurels and birds. A simple online search for information regarding the kind of Saudi nationals that Khashoggi would have tried to alert the world about landed me on a Wikipedia page listing 25 Saudi dissidents. For me this would be where Khashoggi left off and where I could begin, reading and learning about a culture whose resources we hunger after, yet whose society we hardly understand.
Each drawing then is titled to represent a Saudi dissident listed on that Wikipedia page. Rather than creating illustrations that might depict the specifics of each individual’s story I chose to build generic compositions based on all the core elements mentioned above and also filter in some of my own ongoing motifs such as tornadoes, arteries, strata, surveillance cameras and feathers. Common throughout many of the tableaux are the two prime power brokers depicted as emblematic twitter birds, posturing and preening within their sheltered heraldic realms, while meanwhile the world futilely looks toward them for answers to the calculated and gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi and ongoing harassment of dissident voices. – Kenny Cole
“The Khashoggi Story: Wikipedia 25-Madeha al-Ajroush” 2019 Gouache on paper 22″ x 30”