Hajra Waheed often works in a variety of mediums, and in doing so creates pieces that are rich and very expressive of her personal life. Her work also appears indicative of a wider societal atmosphere. Her 2016 exhibition SEA CHANGE (CHAPTER 1) is a visual novel about missing and being missed, the yearning for what you had and what you are without now. Unusually it is not a standalone exhibition, but part of a story that will unfold over Waheed’s lifetime focusing on nine different characters. This dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what can be told through art is one of the reasons Hajra is our first Discover post.
Born in Dhahran, and raised in the headquarters of the Saudi ARAMCO, the Arabian American oil company, Harjia grew up in an area that was highly militarised with strict surveillance in place. The area is in the desert in the eastern province, with strict checks the community was constructed to mirror a 1950s California suburb – once considered the pivotal society model. To add to this even schooling was Americanised, no Middle Eastern history or languages were taught. With such rigid and frankly odd structures in place, Hajra left and rediscovered her heritage. Themes that began to show in her work include an obsession with state surveillance and the emotion surrounding displacement. The Sea Change examines the duality of the sea to provide and destroy over a print, geological maps, collages, photographs and objects.
Discover: Ruben Martin de Lucas
Ruben grew up in Madrid, he went on to study engineering at university however from a young age he would experiment with graffiti. Eventually he switched career paths and began creating conceptual installations that challenged broad established notions we all subscribe to.
His series Bureaucracies – On The Fundamental Right of Movement and the Impossibility of Exercising It deals with the changing landscape and restrictions imposed by state actions, for example waiting for another human being to give you permission to cross a line that represents moving from one country to another. In light of the migrant crisis and Brexit reflecting on these notions are important to deconstruct such embedded beliefs.
In essence, this body of work examines the nature of borders and questions man’s need for them. This work challenges the usefulness of concepts such as nations, borders as no more than artificial lines created hundreds of years ago. History provides plenty of examples, such as the Scramble for Africa where European colonial leaders divided up the continent by drawing with a ruler on a map without any consideration for the preexisting boundaries of tribe territories.
His work Mini Republics furthers questions the artificial nature of borders and belongs to Stupid Borders, an ongoing group of conceptual projects that question what a nation really is. Ruben has stated he wants this project to be a lifelong body of work and that the decision to do so is driven by the state of borders today and the real, life and death implications they can have for some.
He creates what he calls ‘ephemeral microstates’ that are only ‘alive’ or exist for no more than 24 hours and the only citizen of these microstates are Martin de Lucas himself. The photographs taken emphasise the ludacris nature of someone creating a state e.g in some cases Lucas is simply floating in a boat in the sea within a triangle marked by a white outline. It does seem absurd however they are strikingly poetic and attention grabbing images that emphasise the irony of what a border truly is. His work is very philosophically charged, we feel small when faced with such broad ideas and this is intended to make us reflect upon our behaviour and lives within Earth.