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’m mainly posting out of guilt, because I haven’t posted in a while.
So major updates:
1) TOEFL test: √
2) Driving test: √ … but I failed… so my next test is scheduled for January 6! AARRGGHH!
3) MBA application: work in progess… planning on submitting it soon.
1) Dubai won the Expo 2020 hosting city vote.
2) My birthday is on Sunday.
3) UAE national day is on Monday, so we have Sunday and Monday off.
1) Finished ‘The Public Woman’, notes comming soon.
2) Didnt finish the Stephen King book… because I got bored.
Having reluctantly put aside my dislike of Kristen Dunst, I tried to see though her irritating presence and at the interesting character she emboidies in the movie. I enjoyed the story in that it presented the end of the world almost as an afterthought, rather than the usual panic-driven plots of apocalyptic films. Humans should come to terms with their inevitable end.
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.
I spent the alot of time away from my laptop this weekend. I went to Abu Dhabi to visit a very good friend of mine, and stayed over at her place for the night. We went shopping, went out with some of her friends, watched movies, ate lots of food and generally did other regular wind-down-time consumer stuff.
At one point I thought of RFOAH and how I couldnt post because I didnt have my laptop handy, and I wasnt going to type in paragraphs on the phone. I just thought it would be very cool to have the RFOAH page linked to the Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr page of the residents.
It would provide updates on things that are tangient to the residency but still relevant to the documentation of non-art activities since not everything will be worth a post here, yet everything is worth documenting since ‘everything’ is part of the lives of the residents.
Those were my thoughts for tonight. I just got back from Abu Dhabi after a long, sweaty, delayed buss trip that took three and a half hours (it usually takes two) and caused me to miss the opening of I Look To You And I See Nothing at SAF, which by the way, includes Ryoji Ikeda’s spectra. I glimsed it as I reached home and it brightened my mood quite a lot. I don’t have any of my own pictures of it, but you can see other peoples shots thought this hashtag #shjspectra
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.
So my promised post got delayed because I spent last night that the Sharjah Book Fair at the Sharjah Art Foundation booth… seen below:
We don’t usually display Windows 8 screen savers on our screens, this was taken when we were closing up.
The fair was really cool, many a stall had many a book that I would otherwise not have come across. I bought this book (below), which, just by standing there and reading the intro, is very very interesting. Also, standing there and reading in the middle of the human trafick in that corridor earned me a 10 AED discount. Yay for geeky appreciation.
Do forgive any typos, I’m typing as I sleep and the uploader doesn’t have a spell checker.
… or just finished reading “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad” by George Orwell, which thoroughly enoyjed. Orwell is a lot funnier than he lets on in Ninteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm, (the only other books of his that I read) though his humor is not without cynicism of course.
pictures of things are nice…
It’s been a quiet day otherwise. I do have some thoughts that were triggered by Farid Rakun’s latest post (N0. 8) which I intend to post tonight/tomorrow morning.
Also the test went… very interestingly… the results will be out in a week “no less”, as the examiner felt the need to add. So will have an update on that too.
“…But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).
Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”…”
I’ve started to read yet another Stephen King book, and though he keeps me interested with his moderate wit and entertaining plots, I can by now practically predict the course of his stories which seem to always involve small-town Maine, which he seems to include as a tribute to his past but probably secretly despises; a door, usually leading to some time or place else; and the number nineteen, which I personally think he should get over. I haven’t read much about Stephen King himself, and so have no factual backing in what I am here concluding about his character, but as an avid reading for the past several years, I would like to request of Mr. King to please step his game up. Even though, that regardless to whether he does step it up or not, I (and I’m sure many others) will most probably continue to purchase and read his books; for they are, after all, on the higher end of the quality spectrum in the ‘easy reading’ escapist genre, which was the main reason I picked the book up in the first place. I’ve grown quite tired of articles and theoretical analysis of cultural theory, and just happened to have a Stephen King book lying round untouched for the past year. Almost the past year, it was a birthday gift to me last December. And now I shall go continue reading it.
Here is the previously mentioned ‘Life Map’, though not the form previously promised. It’s a badly taken photo because I don’t have a scanner. Also one might notice a discrepancy with the dates on the photo and on the posts, and that is not because I am extremely lazy but because the, space/time continuum is not in fact linear.
This started as a to-do list then spun off into everything, and now that I take a look at it, it might have too many things that none of them will get done.
Some are very specific and some are general and might not make sense (like the abbreviations), so if curosity nudges you, do feel free to ask what the hell am I talking about.
On another note, I saved some old cards from the bottom of my drawer and added them to what has now become the Post-Card Wall (seen below). The big paper on the other wall is an interview with Korean artist collective Part-Time Suite, who are very very cool. I don’t really remember how I came to aquire an A3 print out of this interview, but its an interesting read and you can check them and their work out here: http://www.parttimesuite.org/
More elaborate furnishing plans are comming up.The flat is very very empty (still), I gave away my two plants to a friend of mine yesterday because they needed a better, less preoccupied caretaker than myself, so now I want to fill the space up with stuff, or perhaps lower maintenance plants… like cacti.