Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem launches the 2018-2020 Vancouver Biennale with a provocative take

The Vancouver Biennale has revealed the first installation in its 2018-2020 exhibition, with “Paradise Has Many Gates”, by Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem. Currently located at Vanier Park, the installation is designed in the architectural form of an Islamic mosque and is made out of chain-link fence – which is more commonly used to keep the unauthorized out or the imprisoned in.

The mosque evokes multiple meanings and feelings; the generational divide between young and old, the designation of sacred space and its meaning within different cultures, the role of religious belief and our search for new knowledge and ways of living, the power struggle between religious constraint and democratic freedom.

“As we launch this new exhibition, with the theme re-IMAGE-n, we open with an artwork that’s transparent, which invites exploration into sacred space,” says Barrie Mowatt, President of the Vancouver Biennale. “In a time when we’re witnessing dramatic political shifts towards nationalism and isolationism around the world, we need to re-explore our beliefs, our fears and our vision for a new interculturalism”.

A series of collaborative events and activities are being organized around the artwork :

Tues June 26 10:00AM-1:00PM – Vanier Park

Witness the unveiling of Vancouver’s newest outdoor community gathering space and inaugural installation of the 2018-2020 Vancouver Biennale, meet the artist, and participate in meaningful dialogue about sacred/public space, interculturalism, and other global and local issues. Welcoming remarks, scheduled press/artist interviews, and opportunity for open dialogue about the artwork.

Wed June 27 6:00-9:22 PM – Vanier Park

Join us at Paradise Has Many Gates in Vanier Park for a Sunset Picnic in celebration of Multiculturalism Day. Meet up with friends and neighbours to celebrate the incredible diversity of people and cultural organizations in our community. Bring a blanket and picnic and enjoy an evening of music, dance and fun in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.

Detailed information about these events and others planned throughout the summer is available through the Vancouver Biennale website. Learn more here:

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