saudi arabia pavilion presents 40-meter-long palm frond installation at venice art biennale

Designboom_ Saudi Arabia returns for the third time to the Biennale Arte 2022 in Venice, presenting Muhannad Shono’s site-specific 40-meter-long installation curated by Reem Fadda and Rotana Shaker. On view at the Arsenale-Sale d’Armi from 23 April to 27 November 2022, the vast art piece titled Teaching Tree ismade of palm fronds painted in black and animated by pneumatics. The enigmatic organic form fills the length of the pavilion, embodying the artist’s investigation of the drawn line and its potential for creation and destruction. Through this, he explores ideas of resilience and regeneration both in the natural world and within the human imagination.

Muhannad Shono draws influence from his childhood memories and his family’s long history of migration to create powerful paradoxical works, from intimate drawings, large-scale sculptural works, and robotic and technological pieces. For Teaching Tree, the Riyadh-based artist has formed a dominating structure out of black palm branches that move thanks to pneumatics.

The mysterious installation takes over the entirety of the pavilion, with its organic form alluding to ‘mother nature’ and its hope for rebirth in face of warning signs of past and future ecological struggles. In addition, through his work, Shono explores concepts of destruction, rebirth, regeneration, and healing, while interrogating the self, tradition, mythology, and the natural world at the same time. ‘My work embodies the irrepressible spirit of creative expression: the power of the imagination that grows despite what may attempt to limit it but instead makes it more resilient. This is a resilience that is taught by nature, in its continuous cycles of death and re-growth, like trees nourished by the ashes of wildfires.’ he explains.

‘The Teaching Tree references the drawn line overgrown, now encapsulating a multitude of dimensions. This object becomes emblematic and dichotomous in imaginations represented, words written, and marks engraved, reflecting upon their irreversible effects on history.’ shares the exhibition’s curator, Reem Fadda.