The United Arab Emirates is a culturally diverse country. I feel privileged to be surrounded by different ethnicities and cultures that make up an interesting cosmopolitan environment. As an artist, this presents me with the opportunity to explore various themes in semiotics and gender politics with the purpose of understanding how sometimes one thing can mean different things to different people. This shift in meaning is one of the main issues my work deals with. I am interested in how the meaning of the visual, verbal and vocal is constructed and conveyed to the viewer. For example, The Propagandist (Figure 1), which is an artwork based on perceptions, initiates a conversation of what is culture and what is a simulation of culture.
My work takes distinct forms and can be experimental at times. I use digital technology to produce narratives and create illusions. Most recently, I have developed an interest in video projection on non-flat surfaces. The idea of producing a realistic 3-dimensional face (Figure 2) that speaks and looks directly at the viewer is provocative and triggers instant attention from the viewer.
One of my recent works is “Kharareef” (Figure 3), which is an ongoing research project on the use of traditional folklore fables in the social and cultural history of the UAE. Through my own interpretations and visualizations, I attempt to create a documentation of the folkloric oral history transmitted to us when we needed to be disciplined or during bedtime stories. The “Kharareef” research, in its initial stage, combines a series of photographs in addition to a video art piece. The video is composed of footage from several British documentaries that tell the story of the United Arab Emirates before their confederation, when they were known by the name of "Trucial States," in addition to footage from my own personal video archive. Throughout an assembly of associations forming a dream-like path, I retrace the memory of a past that is not easy to interpret, deriving its base from a personal myth. The protagonists of the story are seven women, like the seven Emirates: Jinnat, meaning female demons, which were popular in the stories of the elderly in the area of the Gulf. The video unveils links to a matriarchal theory that is not interested in logic as much as power, adopting a style that is relevant to horror and expressionist cinema.