A per­spec­tive on fan­tasy by Kinzy Al Sa­heal

We step be­yond our sub­con­scious into Kinzy Al Sa­heal’s dreamy imag­i­nary world

Emirates Woman - - Contents -

Kinzy Al Sa­heal, a col­lage artist and pho­tog­ra­pher born and raised in Jed­dah, Saudi Ara­bia, is no stranger to the con­cept of com­mu­ni­cat­ing un­com­fort­able po­lit­i­cal mes­sages in a re­stric­tive so­ci­ety through art. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing last spring from Loy­ola Mary mount Uni­ver­sity in Los An­ge­les with a stu­dio arts de­gree, she moved back to the re­gion to pur­sue a ca­reer in the arts – with an em­pha­sis on the themes of “fe­male em­pow­er­ment, jus­tice and peace”. Hav­ing landed an in­tern­ship at Art Dubai in gallery and event man­age­ment, she’s al­ready well on her way.

Where do you find in­spi­ra­tion?

Travel is such a vi­tal com­po­nent of my life and has al­ways been the purest way of re-en­er­gis­ing my spir­its and pro­vid­ing a shift in per­spec­tive. I’m the most in­spired when I’m im­mersed in an un­fa­mil­iar en­vi­ron­ment, which is what com­pels me to cre­ate my best work. When I’m un­able to travel, I of­ten find my­self lack­ing cre­ativ­ity and the in­cen­tive that guides me to find so­lu­tions to an artist block. In that case, I look for in­spi­ra­tion from mu­sic, books, and other artists.

What is the main con­text of your work?

Ac­tu­ally cre­at­ing new con­text, through the use of dream­like and other-worldly im­agery. The act of tak­ing images out of their orig­i­nal set­ting, ma­nip­u­lat­ing them, and plac­ing them in a new one to pro­vide im­agery that can only be imag­ined pro­vides mean­ing be­yond the art­work.

You use a lot of po­lit­i­cal and his­toric ref­er­ences. What mes­sages would you like to trans­late?

Be­ing a Saudi/ Pales­tinian fe­male has played a ma­jor role in my art­work. My back­ground shapes my char­ac­ter and val­ues, and daily ex­pe­ri­ences. Com­ing from these two places, my love for his­tory is in­nate. How­ever, grow­ing up in a rel­a­tively re­stric­tive so­ci­ety, be­ing vo­cal about cer­tain is­sues, comes with con­se­quences. Vis­ual is ing my thoughts and ad­dress­ing these is­sues through art­work is a sim­ple and safe way to get a mes­sage across, while still be­ing mind­ful of cul­tural and so­ci­etal norms. There are many mes­sages I would like to trans­late through my art­work, but the most prom­i­nent ones are fe­male em­pow­er­ment, jus­tice, and peace. Spread­ing aware­ness and shed­ding light on po­lit­i­cal con­flicts that are close to my heart is so im­por­tant to me. Al­though I am for­tu­nate to be sur­rounded by in­tel­li­gent peo­ple, know­ing that ig­no­rance is so com­mon­place is what drives me to cre­ate the art that I do.

Where would you like to see your­self as an artist in the next five years? What’ s your dream?

Since col­lage-mak­ing is a rel­a­tively new form of art that I have only tapped into two years ago, I’ ve had al­ter­na­tive dreams prior to that that I hope to ful­fill in the near fu­ture. I plan on cul­ti­vat­ing my pho­tog­ra­phy, as I have al­ways been ex­tremely ea­ger about doc­u­men­tary and sto­ry­telling, and have dreamed of be­ing a photo jour­nal­ist for as long as I can re­mem­ber. Hav­ing just grad­u­ated with my bach­e­lors de­gree, I am still in the process of ex­plor­ing my op­tions and gain­ing as much ex­pe­ri­ence as I can in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the cre­ative realm. How­ever, ide­ally I see my­self work­ing for a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion like Na­tional Geo­graphic and trav­el­ing to dif­fer­ent parts of the world, as well as re­vis­it­ing places I have al­ready been to, and cov­er­ing sto­ries that many peo­ple are ei­ther un­will­ing or un­able to see.

What do you love most about art and artists in the Mid­dle East?

What I re­ally ad­mire about art in the Mid­dle East is its rapid pro­gres­sion over the past 10 years. It is an ex­cit­ing time to be an artist in the re­gion, as it fi­nally start­ing to be­come a le­git­i­mate and re­spectable ca­reer path. It is ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing to know that you are not only cre­at­ing art for your­self, but also for a com­mu­nity that is sup­port­ive and re­cep­tive to your ideas. There are so many pro­grammes that are ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing artists and build­ing sus­tain­able ca­reers for them in the re­gion, al­low­ing them to par­take in ma­jor global art fairs and ex­hi­bi­tions. What I love most about artists in the Mid­dle East is that the fear that was once there to cre­ate art that is con­tro­ver­sial and ‘cul­tur­ally un­ac­cept­able’ is di­min­ish­ing. Art is a form of re­sis­tance, and over the past cou­ple of years, in­nu­mer­able works of art have been cre­ated by Arab artists in re­sponse to the po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity of the re­gion. It is al­ways so in­ter­est­ing to see how artists re­spond to con­flict and shed light on top­ics that main­stream me­dia and news out­lets fails to cover.

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