Here's one of my favourite Saudi artists, Abdulnasser Gharem. First time I saw his pieces, I just thought he was some bored Saudi dude with nothing better to do but randomly graffiti some random Jeddah streets here and there or cross the ever-grudging path of emerging Gulf artists meets contemporary art getting some credit during the Arab Art Renaissance with a little calligraphy and modern Arabic font here and there. Phew..
Then I saw the below performance piece (oh yes, the ill-hated lame performance pieces where all weirdo artists get away with making a dance move and swishing to the odd soundtrack), and shut the eff up.
Here he is, making the statement - walking the streets covered in a plastic bag (yes, a plastic bag) gripping a special type of tree. That tree was selected as the tree to cover the area of Jeddah in 2007 by the Saudi Agriculture Ministry at the point of implementing the 'greenify Saudi' strategy. With a little research, Gharem discovered that these trees which were aimed to improve the agriculture of the city actually caused more damage than good (the roots would grow underneath the ground basically killing off any plant life in its way.. Oh the irony).
What makes this piece and artist more fascinating is that Gharem is a former (or current, not sure) Lieutenant Colonel at the Saudi Arabian Army - (Ee, mal iljaish). Army and artist? Grrrr..