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.
On Dec 28 2013, milena commented on Soundtrack to the weekend: Dear Batool, I hope you are well. Thank you for all iteresting issues and congratulatios for test re[...]
This day has been the fourth in a row during which I work dramatically long hours. However it was great to see Farid over skype… if only for about 30 seconds before we decided that the internet connection couldn’t sustain the video, and I cant wait to see him in person next week!
I just realised that it is very close to the end of my Hiatus period! and I feel like I have not been sharing what I’m doing enough.
To be fair, the last month’s entire focus has been work related, which will soon become the March Meeting, so I don’t really have much to share except to tell everyone to look forward to it and if you happen in be in Sharjah or the UAE then do come attend some of the talks!
I am dreading having to be the presenter for the March Meeting though, the thought of having to be on stage introducing speakers and panels while my face looks like the personification of death terrifies me. But I’ll probably just do it.
In other news, my mother was here for a week, and just flew out this afternoon, so I’ve been spending some time with her when I can, mostly arguing over our generational gap and trying to explain that a fork in the road is not synoymous with the utensil. She also couldn’t come to terms with the idea that not having to belong to a place is quit normal… and that took an unsuccessful 2 hours.
In other other news, I scratched my car, while in the parking, going really slowly. So now I’m car-less for a week while it gets repaired, because it takes the workshop three days to get insurance approval and another three to do the job.
And finaly, in other other other news, I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to proceed after the end of RFOAH… and have reached no concensus amoung my thoughts. RFOAH has been a very reassuring place, if virtual, and I’m trying to incorporate that sense of reassurance into whatever it is I move on to do, but that has proven very difficult since effective reassurance tends to always be external.
Please excuse my typos, and I still owe this page several scanned pages from my note book which I always forget to take to work.