Bab AlBunt Museum drawing large crowds

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — A large number of people are thronging the historic Bab AlBunt Museum in Jeddah to enjoy the monumental video work on the walls of the historical building titled "AlBunt", presented by Marwa AlMugait as part of the Saudi Art Council's initiative 21.39, which is supported by the Ministry of Culture. Bab AlBunt Museum’s video projection is the artist’s first video work utilizing the façade of the building for artistic expression.

Curator of the museum, Marwah AlMugait, began her artistic work in documentary photography and journalism. She then went on to the world of contemporary art by drawing on symbolism and transforming the imagination into an optical form using multimedia and modern techniques.

AlMugait explained that AlBunt is a video work depicting an abstracted visual representation of the historic Bab AlBunt Museum and its strategic geographical location. Projected onto the outer wall of the museum itself, it is a visual narrative of the more than one-hundred-year-old story of the expansion of the sea into the heart of Jeddah, where AlBunt acted as the main port, the customs authority, and the marina.

“The story goes on to tell how this building, throughout those years, was a place where pilgrims who came to the city of Jeddah from all over the world to perform Haj were embraced. The AlBunt building was used as a medical center, where pilgrims were provided with health services before they were transferred to Makkah. This not only accorded great importance to the building itself but also brought vitality to the area as a whole,” she said.

Believed to be one of Jeddah’s oldest buildings, the beauty of AlBunt, with its Ottoman architecture, is brought to life in AlMughait’s project. Through lines that vary and intersect to form the structure of the building, AlBunt displays the beauty of its exterior walls and wooden windows, in addition to reflecting the interior design of its lobby and multiple rooms.

AlMugait’s art installation is an attempt to revive the memory of AlBunt and all those who lived the adventures of traveling over the sea, and all those who witnessed the arrival of the pilgrims from all around the world and helped to facilitate their journey to Makkah. Through the utilization of digital projection technologies, it attempts to give life to these pilgrims’ stories about the length of their absence from their families and their journey’s hardships to perform Haj. The story concludes with a poem by Abu Nawas when he first arrived in the city to performed Haj.

She pointed out that the exhibition gives cultural and artistic value to visitors through their knowledge of the historical value of this place, which is reflected in the work of art by projection mapping, which is considered a tool of street art and public places art. “The beauty of this art is that it gives you the freedom to deal with all classes of society regardless of their cultural, intellectual or scientific backgrounds,” she added.

“This style of art puts the artist in great responsibility, and I constantly wonder, how can I interact with such a wide spectrum of viewers and enable them to interact with my artistic concepts? Nevertheless, it is without a doubt a wonderful experience as long as it creates that interaction with the public and give the public a flavor of the artistic experience,” AlMugait concluded.