Beached whales in the Arabian Gulf
When I was little, I was obsessed with whales, which was kind of funny given I was the furthest from where whales could ever be (at least in my mind). I grew up in Kuwait, which is the hottest place in the world where humans live. This doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of life. The desert there is flat with a hard, bleached ground, but after it rains (which is about 30 times a year) it will blush green with plant life. It’s also the habitat of insects, lizards, and mammals, with a vibrant sea. Whales though? Unlikely. Still, I was a one-man fundraising band and would force my younger siblings to hold up painted backdrops while I knocked on people's doors in our apartment building, asking for money to save the whales.
While researching for this exhibition, I happened upon Kuwait’s strange history of blue whale beachings. Despite being miles from their migratory routes, it has happened in 1963, and then again in 2014. The whales are filmed floating, colossal in the salty turquoise sea—the bones of one are now suspended in a museum. I was quite moved—they were closer than I’d thought. These anomalies represent just how little we know of the creatures we share our planet with, to the point that such encounters become numinous experiences. There’s an existential element to our relationships with other species. When we’re brought to the edges of their worlds, we’re reminded of mysteries that we will never fully understand of this life, and the urgency to protect them, regardless.