For Art Dubai Emirati multidisciplinary artist Maitha Abdalla presented a body of work that navigates internal struggles and meditations on the self. Abdalla reflected upon her personal experiences as an 18-year old gaining independence and moving between new cultures and communities for the first time. Much of the artist’s practice has reflected upon the opposing forces of right/wrong, sin/righteousness. With her newfound freedom to traverse between worlds, Abdalla came to understand that these dualities are contextually dependent.
For Art Dubai Abdalla has constructed an immersive, theatrical set-up which mines Judith Butler’s perspective that identities are both constructed and performative and as Abdalla has found, contextually dependant.
The viewer enters into a closed space, here, they encounter a 3-dimensional sculptural work by the artist, comprised of multiple fragments, each representing a distinct facet of the artist’s identity. Upon first glance, the characters appear to be in struggle, a materialisation of the internal struggles that different aspects of the self must undergo to reach the surface in various social situations yet the artist contends that there is also an intimacy and harmony between these fragments of the self.
Abdalla has produced several paintings in dialogue with her sculptural work that orbit around the same concept. Her surreal compositions depict characters that embody different elements of the self struggling to establish a sense of belonging in their chaotic surroundings.