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Book as Keepsake: Al Saadi’s Diaries, Abdullah Al Saadi

Years ago, inspired by the Bell Jar, I read Silvia Plath’s diaries. The salient memory of that labour was how artfully she translated even the most banal daily event, giving a literary sheen to often underwhelming everyday existence. Al Saadi works the same kind of magic here, but in a visual way.

Abdul Al Saadi - Al Saadis Diaries 2016
Abdullah Al Saadi – Al Saadis Diaries 2016. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The artist’s work comprises brief handwritten diary entries stored in small readymade containers such as cigarette tins and chocolate boxes. Although I can’t read his texts, the look of the scrolls and concertinas in their characterful tins each seem to tell a particular story.

Abdul Al Saadi - Al Saadis Diaries 2016
Abdullah Al Saadi – Al Saadis Diaries 2016. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The spare, traditional method of display gives the work a museological feel, turning each diary into an artefact in itself. According to the gallery text, Al Saadi’s dairies contain ‘aphorisms, meditations… accounts of encounters, reports of travels’. These self-contained chapters could almost be given as gifts or keepsakes.

Abdul Al Saadi - Al Saadis Diaries 2016
Abdullah Al Saadi – Al Saadis Diaries 2016. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

I often feel that we rush through life with our daily routines, commitments and habits filling our days, not leaving us time to reflect or savour the quiet moments; our small daily pleasures. Al Saadi’s artwork glorifies these moments, and allows us to see our own with the same subtle reverence as he has given his.


Further Reading:

Viva Arte Viva: 57th International Art Exhibition La Biennale Di VeneziaPaperback by Christine Macel, Rizzoli  International Publications, 2017

The Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath, Faber and Faber, 2014

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