Hala Ali (1986) will quote and quote again and not wear a T-shirt without thinking about the message it displays: a declaration today, the face of Guevara tomorrow. On her facebook page, without her face, there is something from the Quran, a line from the Bible and from a forgotten source a word on chess: that at the end of the game, the king and pawn go back in the same box. An Islamic thought, perhaps.

Ali was born in Saudi Arabia and raised and educated in the United Kingdom. Since 2007 she has attended the university of Sharjah's Fine Arts program and was this year invited to be part of the Grey borders / Grey frontiers (Edge of Arabia) exhibition in Berlin.

For Berlin she wrote a declaration of her own and it took her only seven minutes. She didn't bother too much about the phrasing! Imagine that. Are great constitutions the product of laborious gatherings of men or are they composed in a moment of whim? By pawns perhaps, who as the art of chess itself, refuse to go back into the box.

A 'mandatory manifesto' for woman was painted by Ali on the walls of Soho House in Berlin. The manifesto looks like it should have been carved in stone on Athenian walls of legislation. For the public at large to read forever. But the visitor of private club Soho House might be surprised to find himself in TheGirl's room, as is the title of the work, only to be surprised once more when the artist points out that such rooms do not really exist in this world. It is a 'his' world. Using fluorecent colour pigments, which become visible only when blacklights are turned on, Ali highlights the frequent occurence of the words 'man,' 'he' and 'his' inside other words such as 'this' and 'the.' 

"I examine contextual meaning and challenge traditional notions of abstract concepts such as text and image," is what she says in the exhibition guide. It simply means that she is in search of the truth. On her facebook page we read she has '0 tolerance for BULLSHIT.' In this context perhaps notice the gender of 'bull' and wonder who teaches us to write around instead of about works of art. (18 June 2010)



Edge of Arabia symposium at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, June 12, 2010.

Grey borders / Grey frontiers, Berlin 10 June - 18 July 2010, Exhibition guide.  

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Greenbox dictionary of Saudi Arabian artists

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From top to bottom: The Girl's Room, Berlin 2010.