How Saudi artist Sarah Brahim combines dance and visual art
DUBAI: Saudi artist Sarah Brahim is making waves with her multidisciplinary collaborative work – ahead of her exhibition at the Biennale de Lyon in September, the Riyadh-based choreographer, dancer and artist discussed her contemporary art.
Brahim, 30, studied dance from the age of three, a training she says was fundamental preparation for her career as a visual artist.
“My dance background has allowed me to study the body in space, the body in motion, and experiences of the body – how the body fits into architecture, music, and silence,” he said. -she explains. “All these experiences have prepared me for my current mode of expression. My practice is now both experimental and research-based. I tend to find something powerful or strong or really important and then work with the most appropriate medium to express it.
Brahim, who defines herself as a performance and visual artist, has studied, choreographed, interpreted and taught jazz, contemporary, ballet and tap. She attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and in 2016 graduated from London Contemporary Dance School with a BA in Contemporary Dance.
Since then, she has collaborated with professional artists across the United States, Europe and the Middle East, exploring various themes through her performances, films and installations.
The artist has explored themes of loss, identity, borders, veiling, migration, the experiences of women of color and those of individuals living a transnational existence. Brahim has shown his work around the world, including Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
In his most recent work, “Soft Machines/Far Away Engines” in 2021, commissioned for the first Diriyah Contemporary Biennale in Riyadh, screens showed individuals interacting with each other, moving, intertwining and embracing . The small gestures, the artist says, are “amplified by repetition and layering, evoking images of multi-faceted beauty.”
The way Brahim worked with the technological framework that brought his work to the viewer, in addition to his sensitivity to how the body is used to present ideas, thoughts and emotions, revealed a singular vision of a intimately and ethereally interconnected world.
In September, Brahim will present the same work at the Biennale de Lyon, which will be held from September 14 to December 31, the opening of which was initially scheduled for 2021. The edition postponed in the event of a pandemic, organized this year by the duo Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, who have long collaborated with artists from the Arab world, address the notion of fragility.
“The installation will be slightly modified to be specific to the site of the factory I work at in Lyon,” Brahim told Arab News. “I work to make certain elements of the piece more immersive through sound and visuals and for the overall experience. I want the guests to feel like they are inside the performance that is being projected.
Brahim also presents 10 works in cyanotype printing on cotton from her “Who We Are Out of the Dark” series, which she started in 2020 and which continues. Her dreamy, abstract and suggestive series explores the concept of generational grief through the idea of epigenetics, the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect how your genes work.
“The works reflect different symbols of grief,” she said. “Because I couldn’t find any symbols that resonated with the grief I was going through and I thought about researching and creating new symbols and externalizing them to better understand my pain and the subject with more depth.”
Brahim’s cyanotypes will be exhibited in various museums in Lyon.