SAHWA: Lamya Gargash
Here I am in the presence of rich human history, all of which has been dormant for many years and brought to life through conservation. I picture this slumbering human resting amidst the desert sand only to be awoken gently by another, and thus their new journey together begins.
— Lamya Gargash, on encountering artefacts at the Al Ain Museum.
The Third Line is very pleased to announce Lamya Gargash’s solo show. Titled Sahwa, meaning ‘awakening’ or the rebirth of an individual or thing in Arabic, the show is a narrative journey through a series of ancient objects from the Al Ain Museum in Abu Dhabi.
In this new body of work, Gargash approaches these ethnographic artefacts from an overlooked angle – that of the conservator’s room. Through her sometimes colourful, sometimes black and white images, the artist rehabilitates these objects, giving them new lives while they undergo a process of restoration. This experience allowed her to examine the artefacts in a new light, not only capturing their physical structures but also gaining insight into the lives and worlds of previous inhabitants of the Emirates. With unrestricted access to these domestic, quotidian objects of anthropological and cultural significance, Gargash retraces their histories in a manner more personal and poetic than journalistic.
A mannequin head with ornaments and jewellery. Bracelets with a traditional spiked design. A brass pen container with a small inkwell. A silver pen nib holder. A ceramic, hand-painted bowl used for charcoal. Water jars with decorative motifs. These precious but everyday artefacts are now the solo protagonists of the artist’s lens. With this poetry of fragments, Gargash creates a story of ancient times punctuated with anecdotes from the present, in the form of romantic still lives or detached images of the rooms where the conservator’s tools are kept.
Sahwa both revitalises an almost-lost past and reveals forgotten spaces of its archaeological afterlife.