Paradise Has Many Gates
Ajlan Gharem, Saudi Arabia
Title: Paradise Has Many Gates
Artist: Ajlan Gharem (b. 1985, Saudi Arabia)
Medium: Plexiglass, aluminum, rolled steel, paint, electric lights
Dimensions (H x W x D): 300 × 1000 × 650 cm (118 x 394 x 256 inches)
Location: Vanier Park in Vancouver
Created from chainlink fence, this artwork can evoke feelings of imprisonment and anxiousness by way of its caged structure. By designing the structure in the form of a mosque, an Islamic sacred and community space, young Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem questions the role of religion in society, especially amongst a younger generation for whom ideas and knowledge are valued over traditional religious and spiritual beliefs.
In a world of mass migration and refugee crises, this artwork invites us to think about the role of fences as physical and psychological deterrents that can isolate and divide people and ideas. Is this mosque, located in one of the most multicultural cities in the world, inviting us all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to see through what traditionally divides us and look toward creating experiences that will unite us?