How does photography play a part in your practice?
I think photography is the closest medium to how we perceive reality. Some would say film, but when we observe, we frame things through narrowed vision, we focus on what we want to see, and we give time to sights that we want to examine. I’ve always been most drawn to photography, and even when I draw, I source photographs that I’ve taken. I love the process of photography, even the editing, and now more than ever, I make things with what I most enjoy using. Sounds basic but it took my entire MA to realise that.
What influenced you to use the human body as your subject?
We are our body- it’s intrinsic to how we experience or perceive anything, and yet, quite crazily, we will never see our interior body. We carry it with us for our entire existence, becoming an inherently unfamiliar space. I love that dichotomy.
You combine science and art throughout your work, and it often depicts an unrecognizable image. What about the unfamiliar inspires you?
I use scientific apparatus, often microscopes, as a means to create ambiguous forms. When met with my work, a lot of the imagery is quite foreign, but becomes recognisable as somehow located within or from the body. That realisation, I hope, sparks a discontinuity with ones own body and that destabilisation of what we think we know and what we don’t ordinarily see.
Who is most commonly the subject of your work and why?
Myself, because I find it more problematic to use someone else. It’s also a way to experience what you want to viewer to experience, and it feeds your practice with further understandings which you don’t get from being a slightly more disconnected director.
On a very different note, I have photographed the interior anatomy of the deceased. Through doing so I experienced the complexity of the human body and it allowed me to use my own imagery which, until that point, I had used medical textbooks.
What piece of art do you admire above all others?
I think one of my favourite works was John Cage’s 4’33’’ performance. It showed how ‘nothing’ doesn’t exist. Empty sound is still full, and you really experience that through the meditative ‘composition’. But in the end, it’s still structured and that heightened consciences which you feel as your sense of sound expands, is framed with logic and science through its time restraint.
At what moment did you decide to pursue art as a profession?
I think it started before thinking of what I wanted to do professionally, but what I was eager to study. I was interested in art from high school, which snowballed to Foundation at Chelsea, to studying Photography at LCC and then my MA at Slade. It was never a black and white decision for me, just an ongoing love affair that, gratefully, turned into what I do professionally.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I met Marina Abramovic during her recent Serpentine show and she sat me down and said, ‘find your purpose’. And that’s something that I’m trying to do within my art practice. As a Syrian, there is a lot I want to say but it has been difficult to translate that into my work authentically and not over politicised. It’s been an on-going negotiation but her words are always in the back of my mind.
Has any art movement, in particular, inspired your style?
Dadaism, as a movement and the people in it- especially Jean Arp. He wanted to free art from its limitations of realism and found art to be an authentic language that arises from a spiritual force. Like Kandinsky, he wanted his work to be “heard with the eyes and seen with the ears”. I’ve tried to adopt this in my work through the ambiguity that I strive to create.
Are you currently working on a new project?
Yes, I’m making detailed graphite drawings of metamorphic rocks, which sit alongside slightly corrupt image files of dead skin cells. I’m trying to play with abstract landscape photographs as well.