Created from chainlink fence, this artwork can evoke feelings of imprisonment and anxiousness by way of its caged structure. By designing the structure in the form of a mosque, an Islamic sacred and community space, young Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem questions the role of religion in society, especially amongst a younger generation for whom ideas and knowledge are valued over traditional religious and spiritual beliefs.
In a world of mass migration and refugee crises, this artwork invites us to think about the role of fences as physical and psychological deterrents that can isolate and divide people and ideas. Is this mosque, located in one of the most multicultural cities in the world, inviting us all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to see through what traditionally divides us and look toward creating experiences that will unite us?
The Vancouver Biennale introduced its fourth edition, titled “re-IMAGE-n”, in June 2018, with projects unfolding over the exhibition’s two-year duration. The Biennale invited international artists to respond to the prevailing issues of our time, including the widespread refugee and migrant crisis, a global shift towards nationalism and isolationism, and an intensifying drain on our shared natural resources. Projects “re-IMAGE-n” (reimagine) a progressive social framework that supports free speech, reconciliation and the rights of First Nations, LGBTQ rights, artistic freedom, gender, racial and sexual equality, ecological awareness, religious freedom, and the ethics of biotechnology.
The Biennale’s artworks evolve in freely accessible and often unexpected public locations throughout Vancouver. By bringing diverse audiences together with artists who offer a multiplicity of perspectives, aesthetics, lived realities and cultural histories, the 2018-2020 Vancouver Biennale provides evolving opportunities to re-imagine the agency and impact of art in public space.
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