Arts Chat: Building a Life as an Artist in the UAE (Part 2)
Presented in partnership with The Arts Center at NYUAD and NYUAD Career Development Center
Discover how UAE artists define their artistic identities in the nation’s quickly evolving ecosystem. Join the conversation with Rami Abuammuna, Palestinian spoken word poet and writer, Shaikha Al Mazrou, artist and Professor of Visual Arts at NYUAD, Farah Chamma, poet and performer, and Iama, an Egyptian singer, as they share how they have navigated their journeys in creating work for the UAE’s uniquely diverse audiences.
Dubai-based Artist and Creator, Rami AbuAmmuna, is a Palestinian spoken word poet and a writer. His upcoming novel “Prisoners At Home” speaks of his roots, a journey of a young man who found himself unexpectedly stuck in Gaza during the Second Palestinian Intifada.
He has been honing his skills in Handpan music for the past two years. Rami blended his music skill with his words experience, bringing a beautiful integration of his two passions.
Shaikha Al Mazrou
In her perennially experimental practice, Shaikha Al Mazrou investigates, combines and evolves ideas from myriad contemporary artistic movements – from colour theory to geometric abstraction. Her sculptural explorations are simultaneously light-hearted and serious. The tension between these two modes manifests itself in the interplay of form and volume, surface and void, material and concept. Working to continually evolve her artistic vocabulary, she deploys and combines elements from her deeply studied vernacular to realise ironic, critical works that reference significant artistic movements. Her works resonate richly with the history of sculpture, abstraction and contemporary art, yet they transcend genre. Defying easy categorisation, each work embraces tension, synthesising disparate binaries to oscillate between the conceptual and the material. Al Mazrou was born in the UAE and received her Master’s in 2014 from the Chelsea College of Fine Art, University of the Arts London. She previously studied at the College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah . Currently, Al Mazrou is working as an Assistant Professor at at the New York Abu Dhabi.
Poet and performer, Farah is known for her spoken-word performances, in which she combines orality, acting, and live music. From Palestine, she has lived in Brazil, France, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Accordingly, her shows always incorporate several languages, especially Arabic, English, and French. She studied Philosophy and Sociology at the Sorbonne, after which she completed a master’s degree in Performance and Culture at Goldsmiths (London).
lama’s first language is music – she translates real life experiences through singing and songwriting. Ever since she can remember, music has been her natural element where she keeps realness and rawness alive. She writes and sings about mental health, social issues, heartbreak, family, love, self-love, self-loathing, and more.
Growing up as a young Egyptian woman, lama has experienced much of the negative consequences of “needing to fit in a certain box” based on her biological and geographical being. But, she trusts that through her art, she can help break down the labels placed on her and others like her, challenging the place of women and other minority groups in society, and other taboo topics.
Singing in both English and Arabic, lama finds beauty in the different ways each language can be used to express. That form of expression lives beyond just ‘songs’. She envisions her music through art projects – and the songs she writes are just one execution of a bigger and deeper topic, living alongside different forms of artistic expression.