Tarek Al Ghoussein
"In the last ten years while living in the United Arab Emirates I have witnessed tremendous change that has challenged my understanding of what is meant by the term “identity”. Since 2003 I have explored various aspects of “identity” through my work, and the rapid transformation of the UAE has been a catalyst and starting point for an investigation into issues related to my own personal relation to land and place. The anonymity of the desert has offered the perfect stage for the investigation. The Self Portrait series represents a commentary on contemporary Western media representations of the Palestinian as terrorist. This project started as a result of my growing frustration with the way in which the Palestinians and other Arabs were being (mis)represented in Western Media.
The “Untitled” A and B series are both concerned with barriers, land, longing and, ultimately, belonging. During the process leading to these images, it became increasingly clear to me how barriers, land, longing, and “identity” inform, shape and define each other. As I attempt to come to terms with the issues related to my personal experience as a Palestinian-Kuwaiti that has never lived within the borders of Palestine, it has become apparent that this current body of work seeks to transcend the obvious reference to the unethical “defense barrier” being constructed in Palestine. The “walls” and “mounds” that appear throughout the images also speak of my own individual struggles irrespective of the conventional notions of national identity.
The "C Series" is an extension of the same themes, however this series departs from these defining/confining concepts and instead focuses on visualized ideas of transience. Although I did not set out to investigate the notion of transience, my work has developed from a process of exploring ideas related to land and place. While unexpected, the strong emphasis on longing led to a consideration of changing landscapes and ephemeral moments that are fixed in time rather than located in a specific place.
The “D Series” continues the exploration by examining the relationship between the subject and space, particularly the relationship between the solitary figure and the temporary boundaries that define a place. The series has allowed me to explore how the individual both affects and is affected by space."
Tarek Al-Ghoussein is a Kuwaiti born Palestinian visual artist best known for examining the boundaries between landscape photography, self-portraits, and performance art. He received his BA in Photography from New York University and his MA in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico. He is currently a professor at the Abu Dhabi branch of New York University.