Jennifer Pickering is a contemporary Canadian artist currently based in Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where she teaches Visual Art. Much of her practice is based in site-specific interventions into public space through which she explores complex systems of information exchange. Issues of access and denial, of privilege, class, and where the power lies are central to her work.
I have been living in the Middle east for the past five years. I moved with the hope of gaining a better understanding of the region and its people. From home, what I heard daily from the media was a frightening story of a dangerous place. As we know, the media often plays an important role in supporting political and social ideologies. I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people and cultures that are different than my own, yet similar in so many fundamental ways, who value hospitality, culture, family, security, diversity and community.
Coming to Andalusia to work, I knew there existed a long and important influence from the Arab world. This is visible in the architecture throughout the city of Sevilla. Of surprise to me was the Arabic influence on the spoken language. In this project I use the dogs of Sierra Norte to draw attention to this intersection of cultures within language. I cut and layer images, shapes and words to draw attention to the places where East and West become so entangled that the influence of one on the other has been either forgotten, ignored or purposefully diverted. For me the dogs who guard and shepherd in the countryside, represent the force needed to guard and guide our understanding of both our own and the culture of others. By knowing how close we are, in a climate that creates power and control thorough difference and fear, we can build the understanding needed for peace and security.