“It’s been exciting to learn how to let a story unfold slowly,” says Farah Al Qasimi. The Emirati artist is speaking of her first long-form video piece “Um al Naar (Mother of Fire, 2019)” that will soon showcase at her first intitutional solo show in the USA, at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Um al Naar first previewed at Art Basel Statements and is a forty-minute video, structured as a TV documentary. It follows a jinn or ghost-like spirit that appears beneath a patterned sheet and delivers a confessional monologue. “It was a challenge to animate the jinn character without the use of limbs or a face,” she admits. Through this work, Al Qasimi ruminates on Portuguese and British colonialism and how it shaped the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, “the influence of European encroachment on the region,” and Euro-centric museological practices to display historical artifacts. It will feature alongside a group of recent photographs.
The multi-disciplinary artist works with the mediums of photography, video, and performance to consider how images inscribe identity along the lines of gender, nationality, and class. Following her US showcase, Al Qasimi will open another solo show at The Third Line, a Dubai-based gallery representing Middle Eastern contemporary artists on September 18th.
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. July 30-October 20, 2019