Global Art Daily™ Archive
United Arab Emirates
Sara Ghareeb, Impressing Transition, 2015. Detail view.
Sara Ghareeb, Impressing Transition, 2015. Detail view.
Sara Ghareeb, Impressing Transition, detail shot. Photograph: Sophie Arni for Global Art Daily, 2015.
Sara Ghareeb, Impressing Transitions, 2015, installation view. Manarat al Saadiyat, 2015.
Tara Donovan, Untitled (Styrofoam Cups), 2008, styrofoam cups and glue, installation dimensions variable. Photograph: Courtesy of Pace Gallery.
Sara Ghareeb is an Emirati young artist, originally
from Abu Dhabi, working with sculptures and installations.
Made of materials she describes as 'taken from daily life',
her installations explore issues of settlement - an
interesting topic to be explored by a young woman,
regardless of origin.
Graduated from Zayed University (Abu Dhabi) in 2015,
I encountered some pictures of her work at their
final graduate exhibition held at Manarat al-Saadiyat
in Spring 2015. A multitude of small white and silvery paper-cut
tents succombing to their gravitional pull - I was intrigued.
The way these intricate paper-cuts are placed on a white
wall is striking. It reminds me of Derrida's concept of
parergon too. The small tents are the ornamention,
the parerga decorating the core concept of evolutions, of journeys.
An Emirati artist focusing on issues of her country's
Bedouin heritage. This were my thoughts coming in the
interview, on a sunny day at NYU Abu Dhabi's campus on
I wasn't completely wrong in my interpretation, but
my conversation with Sara turned to be quite revealing.
Sophie Arni: Thank you for coming all the way to
this campus. So, I've prepared some questions. Actually,
can you just begin by telling me the concept behind
Impressing Transition, the falling tents installation?
Sara Ghareeb: This installation is a journey of becoming
who I am today. The silver train symbolizes my youth, my
teenage years which were focused on mirroring myself to what
I was supposed to be. It was an inward process of
self-identification, shiny objects reflecting themselves.
And then, I developed a white train. Solid, white objects
make a stronger and more stable flow. Grounding myself in
my homes was the second phase of development. I transformed
the silver surfaces into stable white walls.
S.A.: I like the concept of finally coming back home
after a long evolution. I thought these cut-outs shapes
look like tents, or huts. Is there a connection with
Bedouin nomadic culture?
Out of pure generosity, she pulls out of her bag one of her cutouts.
Sara Ghareeb: Here. This is for you.
I like how you call them huts. You are right, these paper
tents are about settlement.
I spent my life moving, 'settling' around the UAE. I am
originally from Abu Dhabi but lived in Ras-al-Khaimah
and later in Dubai. I moved back to Abu Dhabi for my
university. In total, I lived in three different cities,
changing houses and apartments. This repetitive change
of environment forced me adapt myself to new homes.
When I say that I found peace at home, I mean found
peace with the chaos of moving.
S.A.: At the end, I think creation is one of the
best way to find peace with displacements. I can see
how these shapes represent a home, the triangular
shapes are quite protective . And what about the
technique? It seems like you folded each paper.
I first did everything by hand. I knew I wanted to use
everyday materials, materials that I can easily work
with but transform completely. My choice went with paper.
Throughout my university years, I was quite inspired by
Tara Donovan's works. The 3D effect came from seeing her
work. How she plays with light is fantastic. I also made
a parrot out of paper, inspired by Frida Kahlo's paintings.
Transforming a flat material such as paper into an object
to look at is challenging but I really like the effect.
For Impressing Transition, I cut and glue each piece
of cardboard together. The most pain staking process was
cutting the small triangular patterns. Then one day, my
university advisor looked at me and asked, why don't you
try doing with laser cut? I didn't have experience working
with the machine but professors taught me how to use it,
and the process was much better. I could do more pieces.
This is how the final installation came to be.
I used triangles to construct the models for each piece.
They are formed by four or six inverted triangles depending
on how you look at it. Why triangles? I was striving for a
balanced form, one that was pleasing to the eye for its symmetry.
And these triangular patterns.. you can call them Islamic
S.A.: Yes, triangles are often found on many
Islamic art and architecture motifs. Definitely. I
also see a mash'rabiya reference with the play of
light. These perforated triangles make for some fantastic
Sara Ghareeb: Yes, the mash'rabiya
effect! Ultimately, I act as an artist from the UAE and I want to
celebrate my culture's artistic heritage.
S.A.: And do you have any plans for the future?
Are you going to continue making art? I dearly hope so.
Sara Ghareeb: Well thank you. Yes, I plan to continue.
At the moment, I have been asked to take part in opening a
warehouse for artists in downtown Abu Dhabi: Zawiyah Gallery.
It will help young artists to produce their artworks and exhibit
them in different settings. The local art scene here is still
at a young stage, so it's important to nurture the Emirati
artists we do have.
Sara Ghareeb graduated with a B.A. in Visual Arts from Zayed
University in 2015. She has been exhibited in a group show
in Manarat al-Saadiyat with other Zayed graduates in spring
2015. She is involved in the opening of a contemporary art
gallery in the heart of Abu Dhabi, Zawiyah Gallery scheduled
to open in November 2015.
Sophie Arni, October 2015, Abu Dhabi.
All of the images are reproductions and installation views of Sara Ghareeb's work. Courtesy of the artist.
No reproductions allowed.
Copyright Global Art Daily, 2016.