By Asma Alabed
The Christo and Jeanne-Claude award-winning sculpture entitled Keswa finished its exhibition tour around the Emirates and has now arrived at its permanent home at American University of Sharjah.
Keswa was created by graduating AUS architecture students Nada Al Mulla and Salwa Al Khudairi in 2015. The sculpture was exhibited at different sites throughout the country but has finally made its way back to AUS is now available for viewing on campus grounds in front of the new parking lot near the sports complex.
According to Al Mulla, Keswa is an Arabic term that means to cover, which is the inspiration behind the title and construction of the piece.
“The piece itself is inspired by the artistic styles of Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” said Al Mulla adding that three different types of seams were used in the fabric for three different functions in the sculture.
“When the sun is out, visitors can walk inside the sculpture and see the different stitching,” said Al Khudairi.
As an artform, Keswa also reflects the fabric of the UAE society where there are many women who wear head coverings as a symbol of modesty and privacy.
“If you look at the way people dress over here, you will notice that when there are numerous people in an area, you can just see black fabric everywhere, so we wanted to emulate that. Therefore, the abaya, the keswa," Al Khudairi said.
“Christo and Jeanne-Claude create works that relate to conceptions of vast sites which we related to our piece,” Al Khudairi added. "Also, since most of their work is wrapped with fabric, we wanted to create something flowy like fabric but with a rigid material like steel,” she said.
In 2015, Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation presented a lecture encouraging students to apply for a variety of competitions which prompted the students' submission.
Five projects were screened and shortlisted but ultimately Keswa was selected for commission, she said.
"It took a while to figure out the logistics of where to place it on campus but now we've figured it out and it's open to faculty and students," said Al Khudairi.
Asma Alabed is a student at American University of Sharjah.
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