Buro 24/7 Middle East interview: Farah Al-Qasimi
The talented Emirati Yale University graduate and artist
Farah Al-Qasimi was born in Abu Dhabi in 1991, raised between the UAE and USA, she currently lives and works in Dubai where she teaches photography at the Higher Colleges of Technology. In 2012, Al-Qasimi graduated from Yale University in New Haven, CT, with a degree in Fine Arts.
Al-Qasimi has exhibited her works at the Maraya Art Center (Sharjah), the Sikka Art Fair (Dubai), and The Pavilion Downtown (Dubai), and is a graduate of Art Dubai's inaugural Campus program for emerging artists. A long-time musician and student of composition, Al-Qasimi is deeply influenced by music and film, often regarding her photographs as stills from a movie.
Buro 24/7 Middle East sat down with the young and extremely talented artist to discuss inspirations, the positives and negatives of being an Arab artist and the people she recommends checking out...
A Farah Al-Qasimi artwork
What is your biggest inspiration?
As a photographer, my work is a response to the things that happen around me. So everyday life, with both its extraordinary moments and painfully banal ones, is probably my most obvious influence. As a teacher, I also draw a lot of inspiration from watching my students work and discover new ways of seeing. When it comes to getting ready to go work, listening to a really good Patti Smith album in the car gets me revved up and brave when I go out and interact with the world.
Which artwork do you wish you had created?
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Just kidding. Nothing, really - part of the reason why I appreciate other people's work so much is that I'd probably never have the impulse to make it. Everybody works so differently and the way something turns out is so dependent on the particularity of someone's thought process. I guess I just wish I could make a better, more focused version of my own work.
What's your favourite artwork from your portfolio of all time and why?
That's also a tough question. There's work that is less strong but more personally significant because of the time that it was made, or because it led to something bigger than itself. I have a little yellow and red painting I did from my first advanced painting studio class in college. It was one of those spontaneous, work-for-an-hour-and-leave-it productions at a time when I was working very slowly and at a large scale. It was a little anomaly and ended up being surprisingly finished and beautiful.
What's the next big thing?
People outside of America need to know about fluffernutters (peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches).
What are the positives and negatives as a female Arab artist?
I don't like to be pigeonholed as a female Arab artist. I think there's an expected aesthetic or subject matter tied to that, which can be very limiting for someone like me, fresh out of college and experimenting.
I can, however, speak to the everyday challenges of shooting in a place like the UAE. I've had a few incidents during which I've been harassed and made to feel unsafe because I'm traveling alone and seem curious or open to interaction. Since I prefer to work alone and wander, it's held me back a little bit. As far as positives - there are so many. There's the beginning of a really great atmosphere for making work in Dubai, where I live. A lot of people are just starting their careers, so artists are looking to help each other out and provide support.
Who should we look out for?
I'm really impressed by the other artists I showed with at Cuadro Gallery (Ammar Al Attar, Ayla Hibri and Michel Belhomme). I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for what they do next.
Ammar Al Attar,"Sibeel Water I"
Ayla Hibri ,"Visions Of Resistance #3"
Michel Belhomme,"The Blind Beast"
Farah's 'Sunset Circus Series' is currently exhibiting at the Cuadro Gallery, DIFC Dubai, in 'Do You See What I See' until January 9 2014.