An autobiography of your home

Emirati artist Farah Al Qasimi on how her home influences her art


In her first solo photographic show, Emirati artist Farah Al-Qasimi tells Jenny Hewett how the home became the focus of her project.

Tapping into a concept that many Dubai residents can relate to, Emirati artist Farah Al-Qasimi’s current photo exhibition, Hung From The Moon, investigates how the spaces we inhabit become a home. The idea came to the 22-year-old artist after her own personal experience abroad. ‘I became interested in the subject after I moved away from college,’ she says. ‘I had family in the US and their house became another home for me, as did my own apartment. So I started to question the notion of home a little bit more and wanted to investigate how objects play into that definition,’ she says.

How does it feel to show your work on a solo stage?
It feels scary to have my work out there, but also good. It’s great to do things that scare you, which in my case is publicly showing work. You have to be able to defend the work and to understand that some people will hate it.

Explain your technique.
Most of the time I try and be where things are happening. Events, parties, dinners – anything where people are around and leaving their mark. I find the funny moments and take pictures of them. For this series, I was working with a digital camera so I could respond to things more quickly. I made the prints at Tashkeel Studio – I love making my own prints. The colours have to be perfect. Sometimes you need something to be obnoxiously purple – and you need to make those decisions. That’s why printmaking [developing photos] is a huge part of my work.

The Lowdown

Exhibition: Hung From the Moon until August 31 at The Pavilion, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 447 7025).
Artist: Farah Al Qasimi
Price range of works: Not for sale.

‘This was taken in my apartment after I rinsed my hands of pigment. The duck had fallen into the stained sink and it looked like the scene of a homicide. For me, it represents how the specificity of your things can sometimes lead to these funny little narratives that bring them to life. I don’t think anyone else’s apartment might have accidently produced that same picture.’

‘I had bought a 9x12ft mural to hang in my apartment to take me away from the snowy grey climate I lived in for four years. I didn’t do a great job in putting it up, as the seams were very obvious, but I set up coloured lights in the apartment at night to enjoy this sort of kitsch relaxing beach scene. When I moved back here I wanted to recreate it to remind me, ironically, of my time spent in the cold grey apartment. So we had it reprinted on vinyl sheets. It’s special because it’s a direct reminder of how my definition of home changed as I moved around and reminders ground me.’

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