I would love to see this going down in Art History.
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.
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 would love to see this going down in Art History.
In a couple of hours I’ll be off to Adu dhabi – again – but this time to attend the Abu dhabi Art fair. I’ll be at the SAF booth where a curated program of videos from SAF will be screening. Blah blah blah…
Point is, I’ll be away for four days, to come back on saturday evening, and my TOEFL test is on sunday morning. Now, when I had applied for the test, online, I selected the closest testing center to me so that I might just avoid getting stuck in traffic in the morning rush hour and being late for the test. Mind you, the center is still in Dubai, and there still will be traffic, so I’ll still have to leave home two hours early. However, after I confirmed my appointment and paid the fee (this was two months ago) I had to wait for a confirmation email from the center… which I never recieved.
So I’ll called up the regional center (in Amsterdam, I don’t know why it’s there) asking if everything was OK, and they said that I was on their list and everything looks good. So I was reassured, and tried finding the phone nymber of the center. The Google search revealed… nothing. There was no website or phone number or ANYTHING except the address on the TOEFL ticket confirmation. I couldn’t even find them on Google Maps…
So, obviously concerned… I asked my partner to please give me a ride to the alleged adress yesterday, just to make sure that the place exists. We went, it does. So what was fine. But the point here is my absolute bafflement that there was NO RECORD of a place that was supposedly a licensed testing centre! This, unfortunately, is not abnormal for the Middle East, many things cant be found online, and/or dont have updated contact information or adresses… which constantly makes me feel like im being tricked into getting abducted… and robbed… and I hate to reinforce a stereotype, but seriously, Arabs, come on.
Other than that, My final driving test is next wednesday, very excited about it, and a bit more confident than I was on the previous test. No updates on the MBA test score yet.
I’ve heard hilarious about the political situation in Egypt lately, and would like to post something about that when I get a moment to myself. Please don’t take my use of the word hilarious lightly, its a very sardonic, cynical kind of hilariousness… which is why i tend to avoid political discussions, because I’ve resorted to laughing at politics most of the time. But anyway…
In other news, my family are all on holiday today… because it rained. Hahaha… it rained in Kuwait and the whole country got flooded, and everyone stayed home. Its funny; it’s like snow to Canada.. I suppose. There were some really silly videos floating around the internet of people dragging inflatable pools behind their 4X4s with kids sitting inside splashing around, and people wearing rainboots at the mall because the mall was also flooding, so funny… I’ll post something if I find it again.
So that’s a nice lengthy post to make up for not posting in a while, and, as always, do excuse any typos.