In her sophomore solo exhibition that opened just before Ramadan, Najd Al Taher pondered on ponderings, and explored the corners and recesses of thought to find spaces of both anguish and peace in the pensive moments and quiet contemplation that surrounds, and even engulfs waking life. In this interview, the 23-year-old visual artist traces her nascent artistic journey and expresses her relentless push forward against dismissals on account of her youth.
Arab Times: Can you begin by telling us when and how it all began for you?
Najd Al Taher: I became interested and captivated by visuals at a very young age. We grew up watching Michael Jackson and Madonna’s music videos and we started going to museums and concerts at a young age so I was entranced by that whole visual experience. I knew I wanted to play around with visuals and sound at the same time. My first experiments with videography began as a child when we used to make short films for family viewing. I recall we used to put the camera in front of the actual TV and shoot previews. Later I picked up a few musical instruments on my own and got more involved in music and I always compelled to combine music with visuals so got into videography and photography.
AT: When did you become committed as an artist? Tell us about your journey.
NT: In 2014, I had my first experience exhibiting an artwork. I showed a piece at the Peace One Day exhibition at the Contemporary Art Platform. I saw that a lot of people reacted to my pieces and that’s when I realised that I wanted to pursue this.
I had been freelancing since the end of high-school. I am the founder and creator of the Lady Gaga Kuwaiti fan book for which I went all out and do consider it an accomplishment. It was very well done, we had a lot of participants and we did end up giving it to her. It was created to show her the fan base in Kuwait. I met her back in the day before an MTV performance and she was shocked to know that she had fans here so I took it upon myself, as an ardent fan, to create you a fan book. That’s when I knew I loved graphic design, which was my major at AUK.
I freelanced creating short videos for different magazines, Athnain was one of my main clients. I’ve shown in a couple of group exhibitions and then had my first solo show ‘Fulfillment’ at the Dar Al Funoon Gallery in October 2016.
Two highlights of my artistic journey was winning the Crossway Foundation twice, to Japan in 2015 and to the USA in 2016.
AT: Tell us a bit about your last exhibition.
NT: The exhibition was called Al Yaqeen which translates to certainty and was also held at the Dar Al Funoon Gallery. It was composed in three chapters. The first chapter which was darker in tone was called al-Haawiyah which is a name of hell in Islam. All of the names here are taken from the Islamic vocabulary. The second chapter was called Adeema which is the name for the first layer of earth on which we are living on right now. The third one was Firdaus which is one of the names of heaven. The exhibition, for me, started with the installation that was accompanied with a black and white shot behind. I created that installation for people to go in and zone out while looking at it.
The exhibition talked about that moment when someone gets deep into their thoughts. It is that moment of isolation when you detach from everything on earth and dive deep into your thoughts. You either think about all the things you’ve done wrong, all of the things that are heavy on your heart, you fight your demons which is represented in al-Haawiyah or you think of the positive peaceful and hopeful things presented in Firdaus while Adeema is signified reflecting on the present.
I played around with the colour scheme to fit each concept to reflect the emotions I was actually feeling. I wanted to create an obvious contrast because I wanted people to feel the transition as strongly as possible.
The exhibition started right before Ramadan because in the Holy Month people are more in contact with their inner-selves and I wanted to evoke something in my audience. It was a great time to start. I wanted people