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Zahrah Alghamdi “What Lies Behind the Walls” / Desert X 2021

For Zahrah Alghamdi, material and memory are inextricably intertwined. Many of her works involve large accumulations of material that seemingly layer the histories and cultures of the places from which they come. When Alghamdi, who grew up in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia, visited Palm Springs, she was struck by the connection between the desert landscapes and architectures. For Desert X, she has created a sculpture that echoes and synthesizes the traditionally built forms from her country with the architectural organization she found in the Coachella Valley. The result takes the form of a monolithic wall comprised of stacked forms impregnated with cements, soils, and dyes specific to each region. It expresses a highly individualized language corresponding to feelings, emotions, and memories associated with place and time.

Zahrah Alghamdi (Al Bahah, Saudi Arabia, 1977) explores memory and history through traditional architecture in both medium and assemblage. Her laborious and meticulous process involves assembling particles of earth, clay, rocks, leather, and water. Her medium and process draw on the notion of “embodied memory” to translate and delineate themes of cultural identity, memory, and loss. Alghamdi represented Saudi Arabia in the 2019 Venice Biennale and participated in Desert X AlUla 2020.

What Lies Behind the Walls 33.964250, -116.484250 Pierson Boulevard between Foxdale Drive and Miracle Hill Road, Desert Hot Springs On view from sunrise to sunset

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