(Born 1967 in Beirut, Lebanon; Lives and works in New York, NY)
In 2000, when we went into the Iraq war, I felt hopeless about the meaning of making art. I threw away all of my paints. I threw everything away. Then, of course, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to do anything else. So I picked up a piece of paper, put it on the wall and started making lines and writing. I wrote the constitution phonetically in Arabic as a gesture against the meaninglessness. It was those early drawings that made me see that language felt more comfortable as though I had been trying to get to language the whole time. I had never figured out that what I really wanted was the words.
Something I’m really interested in is how something that might seem ordinary in a personal feeling or a statement, when multiplied, becomes something of more weight and expansive. The repetition seems very honest to me.
I like the lightness of working with paper. It’s something I can fold away, be torn up and doesn’t have to occupy massive amounts of space. It’s recyclable. I don’t want it to be heavy on the earth. I want it to be something that exists in a way that could be huge and expansive but only by virtue of the voices of multiplicity or the way that I’m working.
I’ve always felt it’s better not to try to figure out what my work is about but lately, I’ve been okay with the discussion. You look at the world and in a lot of ways art is a coping mechanism. I feel my work has never given people as much as it has at this moment.
–Conversation on June 15, 2020
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