EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF IS TRUE | SHAMMA AL AMRI
By Maha Alsharif
Shamma Al Amri, "Suspended Judgement", 2018, copper, dc motor, led spot light, fire bricks, and audio, 42 x 42 x 50 cm.
Shamma Al Amri’s latest solo exhibition Everything You Can Think of is True takes a visual approach to explore the role of language and its implications in society. The young Emirati artist choreographs Arabic letters to begin a witty open ended dialogue on meaning. Through an endless loop of deconstruction, construction, and reconstruction, she allows visitors to rethink the expressive functions that her selected terms serve, separately and together.
The artist takes advantage of her visitors’ curiosity to draw them in. She comforts them with a whimsical audio-visual presentation of Arabic words that feels vaguely familiar to the distant eye. However upon closer look, the letters appear dynamic and so do the meanings they form. Al Amri creates three levels of connection, the first being a physical connection between the letters to form words; the second between each constructed word and viewer to build an understanding; and the third connection comes alive by the juxtaposition of words that share a visual link, and when placed together suggest new possibilities, where everything you can think of is true.
Shamma Al Amri, "EXIT", 2019, powder coated stainless steel, acrylic, led lights, and electrical circuits, 32.5 x 90 x 8 cm, edition of 7. © Walter Willems, 2019.
For instance, what seems to be a glitchy and misplaced exit sign, is but the beginning to a realm of new meanings and stories. Through simple visual manipulation, the artist introduces the word embarrassing to the word exit, and as a result, the blinking sign reads “Embarrassing Exit”. Once noticed, the concept often triggers the viewer to chuckle and then recall an anecdote or two from personal experience with the subject.
Al Amri’s work achieves its value through the varying reactions that expand the meaning of each word and concept. It explores the fluidity of meaning, by which the physical object is only a springboard to a not so common understanding. Not dissimilar to René Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images”, Al Amri pokes at conditioned responses to visual symbols and explores what else they potentially mean.
Shamma Al Amri, "Your Emotion, Your Problem", 2019, stainless steel, glass, dc motor, water, led spot light, 16 x 48 x 17 cm, edition of 3. © Walter Willems, 2019.
Everything You Can Think of is True engages viewers in unexpected ways, where the outcome neither static nor absolutely true. The artist facilitates a thought provoking environment that is welcoming to all ideas and interpretations, nonetheless it requires a true connection beyond the physical object.