Time Out catches up with the 27-year-old curator of the top Bahrain gallery
Time Out Bahrain staff
So how did you end up in Bahrain and how long have you been here? I moved to Bahrain from Vancouver in September 2010 and was quickly employed at Al Riwaq Art Space as the resident curator. Prior to this and after studying my BA honours degree in art history, I moved to Maastricht, Netherlands, where I worked as a writing assistant to Elbe Stevens, a Dutch film director and producer. There, in Italy and in Vancouver, I completed five scripts that were translated to Dutch, some of which are in the final stages of production. Since my addition to Al Riwaq, I have acted as artistic director, project manager, teacher, lecturer, curator, editor, volunteer co-ordinator events planner and writer.
It sounds like your role at the gallery is very broad, then. Yes it is, and as well as being the initial curator, responsible for showcasing the institution’s collections, it also means I help with the communication, public relations and editorial means of the gallery. My interdisciplinary education has helped me greatly in terms of academics; how to research, develop concepts, ignite a dialogue, condense information, work with people, and how to think independently, but to use the art historical cannon as a platform for prior knowledge and historicity.
What new projects have you helped bring to Al Riwaq and what do you have in the pipeline? I will be leading a team of artists in association with the Seef souk this Ramadan and will showcase a very new concept of digital theatre and puppetry to the audience. We took a team of New Zealand digital artists to various Bahraini locations to capture 360-degree imagery that will then be animated and follow four seperate storylines that incorporate traditional Bahraini culture – values and morals inserted for the children – with a contemporary twist.
We heard rumours of a sound artist too. Yes, and a few other others. During Ramadan Al Riwaq and the café here will be open to the general public. I for one will be hosting some kids’ workshops and there will be other workshops as well – led by other educators. There may possibly be a release of some work of an experimental sound artist we represent, but that’s undecided on. We are usually closed during Ramadan, but I will not be going on holiday, so we will be open during specific times.
So if you weren’t employed as an artistic curator, what would you be doing and why? I would most likely and still hope to be a film director, or art director. But truthfully I have been really interested in film since a young age, and love how every frame is just like a still piece of art. It’s the story, narrative and characters that make this art come alive, and I love creating on a grand scheme. I just love the fluidity of film – also the research, art, movement and hard work, so who knows?
How would you rate the art scene in Bahrain and how do you think it could develop? I believe that the Bahrain art scene has just as much potential as any other country – it’s just that certain things have not yet been explored or have not yet had the chance to prove themselves as serious art practices. I would like to see a stronger focus on the process and practice of art creation, so that research and development is ongoing and sustainable. I don’t like to see goal-orientated artists, but would rather see members of the community who want to engage others around them and the international art world in general. I definitely have contact with amazing artists and ideas in my job, however, and I think that Bahrain’s future is bright. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.
What is your preferred genre of art and via which medium? I really like digital, installation or performance-based art – the crazier the better – but it still has to say something relevant and can’t just be about pure expression, because that’s when lines blur and we can’t tell an artist from just some person who likes to make art. Those are genres and mediums that I don’t typically see here – but we are helping artists get out of their shells and learn that it’s okay to express yourself if you can back it up in a productive manner. For more on the Ramadan events, call Al Riwaq, Adliya (17 717 441).