The Safe, 2019
How do you speak out against the actions of your own government in a country without freedom of speech, one that practices censorship on a daily basis? Abdulnasser Gharem was born in Saudi Arabia and today calls its capital Riyadh his home, while also addressing his country’s human rights violations.
The 2018 case of the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey is still officially unsolved, while most Western governments believe that Khashoggi was murdered by order of Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman because of the journalist’s critical views of the Saudi regime. The incident was widely covered by the international media. The image of the canopy above the entrance of the
embassy — the last time Khashoggi was proven to be alive —has become symbolic of the murder.
Abdulnasser Gharem references this image in his work The Safe and thereby finds a visual language that comments cynically on the function of an embassy while circumventing censorship.
The artist has created a safe haven for young artists in his studio in Riyadh, where he shares his experiences and teaches one thing above all: to become free in thought, even if not everything can be said openly.