I returned to Riyadh late May 2018 planning to photograph the month prior to and following June 24th, the day that Saudi Arabia would finally allow women to drive.

I’m not entirely sure when or how it happened, but somewhere along the line, I got bored and lost interest in the narrative of driving. I know saying I got “bored” doesn’t suit the tidy version of an artist statement, but there isn’t an easier or more straightforward way to describe how I felt. Maybe it’s because my whole life I have always lost interest in anything that became too popular, likely an offset of ongoing teenage era angst. It is as though when driving became the leading headline, the surface of life here, like a band-aid to reality, I grew “bored” and maybe partially frustrated. Don’t get me wrong, driving is an immensely powerful right, and it has been impactful and beyond necessary. Obviously.

Still, this country, its people, cannot be reduced to a series of sensational flashes in time. The virality of big moments in history often leave too little to the imagination in their sense of resolve, impersonality…as though these moments, historic as they may be, are just tasks being checked off a list. I don’t blame the media anymore either, it is a needed existence, we have to express the events happening in this world.

My struggle is that the chaos of life doesn’t fit inside selected press existences. Like a broken record, I’ve repeated this same thought exponentially throughout the years, resisting clarity and conclusion.

I think people are afraid to be gentle or tender with the story of Saudi Arabia.

I think a little tenderness never hurt.

So much of my anxiety and anger about the way Saudi Arabia is portrayed and simplified for consumption stems from this knowingness, through personal experience, that this place is so much more then I even know how to express.

I recently heard the phrase ward al majnoon, which loosely translates to crazy flower, to describe the bougainvillea that grows wildly and unapologetically everywhere here. It is hard enough to live in this world where everyone wants to categorize you or make judgements upon you. And in Saudi Arabia, the judgements come from everywhere. It isn’t convenient at all.

I decided I didn’t want to care about all the rules and full on idealism I was seeing everywhere. I wanted to feel something in my gut, that felt real for me.