Artist of the Week

Farah Al Qasimi

March 26, 2019

Farah Al Qasimi (b. Abu Dhabi, 1991) is an artist and musician. Selected exhibitions include More Good News at Helena Anrather (NYC), No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effects at CCS Bard (Annondale-on-Hudson), Coming Up Roses at The Third Line (Dubai), the first Biennial for Arab Photography at Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris) and Walls and Margins at the Barjeel Art Foundation (Sharjah). She has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Delfina Foundation and at the Burren College of Art. Her work is housed in public collections including Grey Art Gallery at NYU, the Barjeel Art Foundation and Maraya Art Centre (both Sharjah, UAE).

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I am an artist working with photography, video and performance. I grew up in the United Arab Emirates and went to a k-12 school that had no art or music lessons (shout-out to choueifat school in Abu Dhabi for making me feel stupid for 15 years of my life). My parents, who are the best, got me really into music, and I went to college to study composition, but switched to art halfway through because the faculty was so wonderful and supportive.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?

I’m working on a film about a jinn (spirit) who lives in the mountains of Ras al Khaimah, the seaside emirate where my family is from.

What is currently inspiring your work?

1980s era sesame street and the muppet show, the aesthetics of reality tv confessionals, and malls in the uae.

When did you first start making videos?

In graduate school, when I felt exhausted by the constant task of making photographic work. I made a performance that I documented in the format of a music video.

What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work?

In an ideal world: a few laughs, a productive sadness, and maybe some knowledge about the world that they hadn’t previously considered. I’m trying to figure out how to scare people right now.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I saw Patti Smith talk in a small room and she told us all to take good care of our teeth.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Arah Abu Abdallah, Anicka Yi, Latoya Ruby Frazier, Wendy O. Williams from the Plasmatics.

Where are your currently based and how is this influencing your work?

Brooklyn. I film in the Emirates and then supplement it with studio footage, so I think it forces me to be inventive about aesthetics and context. I also teach between Providence and Brooklyn, and I have some pretty fantastic, hard-working students who inspire me to be rigorous with my own work.

What are your goals for 2019?

Take a dance class, sleep more, be more available to the ones I love.