Residency Program Title
KAUST-Swiss Residency Exchange 2016/2017
Institute Lab Title
Stream Ecology Group
Zahrah Alghamdi grew up in south-western Saudi Arabia. She graduated in Design and Visual Arts at Coventry University in the UK and is currently employed as assistant professor at the Faculty for Art and Design at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
Her work is inspired by traditional, artistically decorated architecture. This architecture reflects the cultural traditions and the history of Saudi Arabia. In her work as an artist, she draws on her memories of these rooms and their cultural significance. Alghamdi forges links between history and the modern-day world by trying to create an echo of the past whilst throwing light on the changes in architecture that have moved it away from traditional techniques, materials and resources.
During her residency at Eawag, Zahrah Alghamdi has accompanied the Stream Ecology research group on three excursions to the Roseg Valley in the Engadine. Taking her inspiration from the activities of the scientists in the midst of the mountain terrain with its countless rivers and streams, she captured her impressions in the form of works that make use of found materials, directly intervening in the landscape. She created the pieces either by hand or using simple tools, and made use of materials that she mostly picked up in the Roseg Valley — such as sand from a river bank, or dried plants. This process enabled Alghamdi to tune in to an unfamiliar landscape and leave her own imprint on it while at the same time offering up these imprints to the effects of impermanence. Having been documented in a series of photographs, the works represent a moment in time, as do the scientific data collected in the Roseg Valley.