Community Art Tent

Canvas fabric, Sahrawi women dresses “Melhfa”. 600 x 600 cm
Tent made in collaboration with Fatimatu Said, Sherifa Saleh, Tumana Buzaid, Mela Said, Galia Mustafa, Azuha Hama, Nana Said and others.

The tent has been the primary dwelling for the Sahrawi, it provided an ideal structure for their past nomadic lifestyle, and currently, as refugees, it functions both as a space for communal living and shared meals, and as a crucial refuge in the harsh desert environment. Sleiman Labat, native to this community and still residing in one such tent, collaborated with women in the refugee camps who designed and hand-sewed the tent by gathering everyday clothes and stories that held them.

For the Sahrawi, the tent is a symbol of communal bonds and shared identity. In Hassaniya, their oral language, the term “tent” carries a dual meaning, also signifying the concept of “family.” This dwelling is built with four entrances facing different directions that offer protection from desert sandstorms, which can approach from any angle, and express the Sahrawi’s profound hospitality, welcoming anyone coming from different directions.

The exhibited tent provides an internal space for immersing oneself in Sahrawi narratives. Both during the biennial’s opening and concluding days, Sleiman Labat and Niskanen utilise this space to share Sahrawi rituals and stories and their ongoing artistic research, encouraging dialogue and collaborative learning. In the biennial’s final days, the tent moves outside the exhibition space and occupies a public space in Luleå, embodying its nomadic essence and characteristic hospitality, engaging with broader segments of the local community.


Community Art tent is part of PHOSfate Artistic Research project between Mohamed Sleiman Labat and Pekka Niskanen

On view in Konsthallen Kulturens Hus, Luleå Biennial 2024