Batool Mohammed, Egypt (lives in United Arab Emirates)
1 October 2013 - 1 April 2014
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Batool grew up in Kuwait and currently lives in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, where she works at the Sharjah Art Foundation. She completed a four year BFA at the College of Fine Art and Design at the University of Sharjah and graduated in 2012.
On-hiatus Proposal Summary
Batool is not on Hiatus by choice, in fact, making art has proven a frustrating challenge after she graduated from university. However being officially on Hiatus, she hopes, will take the pressure of needing to make art off of her shoulders, allowing her to resume making it after the period of this residency is over.
Also given the fact that she works at the Sharjah Art Foundation, she often finds herself sarcastically nitpicking at artist statements, biographies and the general wording of art texts; what has been called International Art English (IAE). She also spends lots of time doing conceptual research for upcoming events, which surprisingly results in similar sarcastic deconstruction of texts by established philosophers that she would usually be fascinated by.
For the duration of this residency she proposes to compile all her notes on readings and texts as a series of scans and word documents or other means of entering text on the web page. She will also document her daily life on hiatus which would include the process of furnishing her flat, getting a drivers license, going to art events in Sharjah and Dubai and hopefully not making any art secretly.
One day before the start of March Meeting 2014, I met Farid (Rakun) at the office to say hi and get some formalities out of the way. During the few minutes we spoke I manage to condense my experience on RFAOH to one sentence that I paraphrase as accurately as I can; I can be okay with not making anything and still call myself an artist.
This is not to be confused with laziness (please). The anxiety of feeling obliged to make work was enough to drive me away from it, not unlike a stubborn child, but also, the art world’s [implied] obsession of producing a spectacle – even if not visual – factored into the equation. It blew my mind, and perhaps naively so, that there still needs to be a final entity to fund/produce/document/archive/perform/record/etc.
This remains an open question to me, and perhaps the closest of an answer to this issue, is the one reached by the organizers behind RFAOH when they decided to start the residency. I took the time at RFAOH to focus on none of that, hoping that by not searching for it, I’ll notice it sitting outside the doorstep. I can’t say I’ve succeeded too finitely (how ironic) but I have at least, identified my preferred way to work, of having many disconnected things simultaneously going until they all condense into ‘a practice’. Accordingly, going to class, work and anything else I do will factor into said practice; and parallel to that, I’m starting to work on a text-based project similar to my initial proposal for RFAOH which I did not carry out during the residency because it felt too much like… work. Also I was afraid of starting it within RFAOH then not being able to extrapolate from it after the end of the residency since nothing on RFAOH is to be considered art/work. However, I don’t intent to embark on this research with the same smirk on the face of the initial proposal to RFAOH, but rather with a genuine questioning approach that may or may not culminate into a resolute end.
I am also considering documenting said research on my own – now dormant – blog that I started some time back for this very reason, but never got to really take it on. It was also due to being at RFAOH that I came to be more comfortable with the idea- that of virtual space and internet content.
I walked over to our Urban Garden space yesterday after work to try and offer what little help I can before I ran off to go carpet hunting, and I got a quick snap of it (again, on my awesome new camra on my awesome new phone). It’s all new and construction has started recently, its a community garden that will develope slowly as people care for it… anyway… official info here.
Also, the living room now has a reasonably sized rug in a little corner with with cushions and soft things to sit on, and I will be equiping it with a nice floor table which I intend on visiting a capenter for. pictures comming when people populate the corner, its a bit sad on its own.
Oh, I should also add, that my awesome new phone that I’ve been spazzing out about this is.
I finally have a minute to post this, in response to Farid Rakun’s post No. 8.
He talked about what you can or cant call yourself within a certain practice, and I’ve had very similar thoughts about what I should (or can) call myself after I graduated, especially since I wasn’t making any work. I wasn’t able to say I’m an art student any more, which was my preferred identification before I graduate… and for a while after graduation I still said that, sometimes adding ‘oh yeah, I just graduated’. It sounded awkward; it was awkward in my head, so I had to find an alternative. ‘I studied art’, ‘I just graduated… art’, and ‘I’m not really doing anything at the moment’ were all used. Eventually I started to use my workplace as the identifier, but never said ‘I’m an artist’… why would I? I wasn’t MAKING anything, I spent a whole lot of time thinking, reading, writing and, stressing about many things, but never made any.
Of course my humble short-lived experience does not compare to Farid’s ten year one, but contrary to the conclusion he reached (or lack of), I had no problem calling myself an artist when I started this residency. I figured that if I’m officially not doing something then I must in a position to be doing it. I hope I make sense… doing everything by doing nothing…
There must be a neat, smart theory out there that articulately describes this, if anyone knows of one, please tell me.
Anyway, my conclusion is, I suppose, that it’s probably more comfortable calling yourself ‘anything’ as long as there’s context to justify it, which is what this residency does, provides context.