Suspended Together – Installment Leaves Impression Of Freedom
A lot of us look at installments like these simply for their face value. Beautiful white doves flying through the air with what look like post markings stamped onto their fragile bodies. Are they birds, coming and going as they please and passing notes, perhaps? “It’s Pretty!” you might even say. Often enough though, because of language or cultural barriers, we may need to be told the story behind the piece to fully understand its meaning, to share the vision of the artist. I did, and it moved me more than words could possibly describe.
This particular work entitled Suspended Together by Saudi Arabian artist Manal AlDowayan, is very powerful in its concept. Each of these 200 doves carry with it a permission document that all Saudi woman are required to carry, no matter their circumstances. Here is a quote on Manal’s statement about the piece:
“Suspended Together” is an installation that gives the impression of movement and freedom. However, a closer look at the 200 doves allows the viewer to realize that the doves are actually frozen and suspended with no hope of flight. An even closer look shows that each dove carries on its body a permission document that allows a Saudi woman to travel. Notwithstanding their circumstances, all Saudi women are required to have this document, issued by their appointed male guardian.
The artist reached out to a large group of leading women from Saudi Arabia to donate their permission documents for inclusion in this artwork. “Suspended Together” carries the documents of award-winning scientists, educators, journalists, engineers, artists and leaders with groundbreaking achievements that gave back to their society. The youngest contributor is six months old and the oldest is 60 years old. In the artist’s words, “regardless of age and achievement, when it comes to travel, all these women are treated like a flock of suspended doves.”
This installment, like her other pieces, is both awakening and emotional. My Name is another community project by Manal that highlights the unique social attitudes towards women’s names in Saudi society.