Mixed media on wood panels. Part 1 (h.50 x w.40) cm, Part 2 (h.50 x w.24) cm. Overall size: (h.50 x w.50) cm.
The Sky [Wa]s [Never] the Limit
In this work, and in honour of its 30th anniversary, the artist recalls the Discovery STS-51-G mission blast off in June 17, 1985. It was an important event that shaped the GCC’s popular
culture for decades. Discovery STS-51-G was the first mission in the history of NASA with two international crew members: HRH Prince Sultan Al-Saud from Saudi Arabia, and Patrick Baudry from France, both served as payload specialists. One of the mission’s tasks was to deploy Arabsat-1B, which was the first fully functioning satellite in the Arab world after the disappointing failure of Arabsat-1A. Before the trip, there were many doubts about the prince’s ability to pass the strict training of NASA especially that he, and his French colleague, had joined the program later than the rest of the crew. Also, there were many doubts about the success of the Arabsat deployment, since the first attempt had failed. However, these doubts were defeated by the success of the trip, and the entire Arab and Muslim world celebrated the news with an incredible joy.
On account of that event, the space world fever struck the Saudi nation. Children upgraded their dreams. They flew hundreds of paper rockets in class; day dreaming about becoming astronauts. Despite being four years old when this event happened, the artist remembers that up until her third grade STS-51-G mission was still the talk of everyone. Her older sister’s dream was to become the first Saudi female astronaut, and her older brother had sported his Discovery T-shirt for years. Items printed with pictures of Discovery STS-51-G and the Prince were the next cool thing, even ice cream cones and candy shaped and/or named after the Discovery space shuttle were the best treat a child would wish for, and those who were lucky and received a visit from Prince Sultan at school to tell them about his trip cherished their school forever!
The work consists of two parts. The first shows two paper cuttings from The Times and The Guardian, reminding the viewer about the time when the Arab world had to rely on international news agencies for breaking news. The second part display some of the artist’s personal archive of original objects manufactured by NASA back in 1985 to celebrate the event, which she acquired years later thanks to the cyber world of the internet. These were arranged in a setting that summarizes the journey of 51-G: the official cover of the blast off, and the deployment of Arabsat with original US stamps and mail office ink prints are laid at the bottom, followed by a paper rocket made of a copy of a newspaper print of the event to represent all the great dreams that were loaded on board such a simple child play, and finally an embroidered badge of the mission showing the prince’s name and the Saudi flag to represent the planets and the lives that are yet to be discovered in our galaxy.