Ex­plor­ing cor­ners

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ci­na­tra Fer­nan­des

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

Photo pro­vided by Najd Al Ta­her

Photo shows ‘Lost’ from Najd Al Ta­her’s first solo expo en­ti­tled ‘Ful­fill­ment’. In to­day’s Spe­cial Re­port, 23-year-old vis­ual artist Najd Al Ta­her traces her nascent artis­tic jour­ney and ex­presses her re­lent­less push for­ward against dis­missals on ac­count of heryouth.

Najd Al Ta­her

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