Amman Design Week’s 2017 program consisted of “The Hangar Exhibition”, presenting the work of local artists, designers and photographers. More than just a series of colorful and pretty pieces, each project exhibited at ADW had its own message to portray on the overall theme of ‘movement’.
I attended Amman Design Week on 7th October with a few friends, initially reluctant to go as I’m not a huge art fan. To be honest, I don’t really get it when it comes to art, as it takes me some time to understand the message of a piece of artwork. However, as I was somewhat pressured into going by my friends, I decided to grin and bear it. After a long and stressful car ride, we finally arrived at the Hangar. It was flooded with people, all of whom were clearly appreciating the art in front of them, taking pictures and talking at length with the exhibitioners. Determined to make the most of it, I started to explore. At first, I was greeted by an enormous mirror which would follow me wherever I walked. Desperate to get away from the increasingly harrowing reflective surface, I ran into a ‘salt pond’ which resembled the Dead Sea. Despite everyone proclaiming that this was a hugely clever concept, I was still not very intrigued (it’s just a salty puddle, I thought, as I walked away). I walked around the exhibition and looked as serious as I could, examining the work on display with as much enthusiasm as possible. Truth be told, however, I was still pretty confused by it all – sure, they were all good-looking pieces of art, but I still couldn’t understand the stories behind the work.
About thirty minutes in, I found myself listening to a man explaining his work. Bingo, I thought, finally an answer to my prayers. It turned out that this particular artist’s company was approached by the Jordanian oil corporation, Jo Petrol, who asked if he could make a gallon container that would be unique to their company and completely different to all other gallon containers on the market. Taken aback by how urban and hip Jo Petrol of all people seemed to be, I got over my initial surprise and listened further. The artist’s main challenge was: how to make the Jo Petrol container special? Good question, I wondered, how do you make a hunk of junk like a gallon container even remotely interesting, let alone artistic? The man smiled and explained that his answer to this quest was to create a container that had a hidden “JO” on it. Pretty ingenious.
Though still a skeptic (do fancy gallon containers even qualify as art, I wondered as I walked away) I confess I was impressed and decided to explore ADW with a renewed sense of interest and a brand new set of rose colored glasses. A feeling of adrenaline took over me (something I found unusual as I’d only really ever felt that way playing sports). As I walked past the previous pieces I had so massively failed to understand, I could sense their stories and messages becoming clearer to me. Walking past the ‘Dead Sea salt pond’ again, I ran up to the edge of it and looked into the water. I could see my reflection but suddenly I noticed it was fading away. I finally understood the message; that if the Dead Sea (or in fact any sea) continues to be treated the way that it is, it will no longer exist.
Feeling refreshed, I made my way back. Would I classify myself as a reformed art buff? No, but my experience at ADW has definitely given me a new sense of appreciation for art as a medium and more importantly the people and stories behind it.