INT. The Body – Sunrise is the solo exhibition of Emirati visual artist Maitha Abdalla at Cromwell Place, London, 10 - 16 October 2022. This exhibition marks the culmination of Abdalla’s three-month An Effort residency supported by Abu Dhabi Arts & Music Foundation (ADMAF).
Abdalla’s multidisciplinary practice crosses photography, film, performance, works on canvas and installation. Much of Abdalla’s art is invested with research-based cultural narratives and folklore as well as explorations of psychology, social interactions and memory. She interrogates dualities of right/wrong, sin/righteousness and exposes the fragility of social constructs through her art. Abdalla constructs theatrical scenes cast with characters that represent various facets of the self. The exhibition's title INT. The Body - Sunrise draws from theatrical codes and script writing with "INT" signifying the internal. During the An Effort residency programme Abdalla continued her explorations of these themes using the An Effort framework to refine her technique, explore new mediums and connect with the London art community.
“The first few weeks brought me back to basics. I spent hours sketching out my characters, focusing on construction to better understand movement and form. I found myself fixated upon the rooster. In local culture the call of the rooster signals that angels are close by, my grandmother would tell me this as a child and the rooster - as an embodiment of spirituality - preoccupied me for years. It became a regular motif in my output that I have taken the time to really unpack and develop during this three month period of immersion; you’ll notice that the rooster recurs in the paintings that will be exhibited at Cromwell Place as well as its counterpart - the donkey which is said to perceive demons.
Regional folklore, passed down from generation to generation, regularly informs my work. These tales are often verbally communicated rather than documented by the written word; the residency offered me a chance to share these narratives and open up new dialogues surrounding them with a new community. It’s always so interesting to see how those from other cultures connect with these stories and relate them to their own experiences. An Effort offered an immersion into the local art scene as well as connection to former An Effort residents. I was, for example, able to collaborate with a previous resident, a sculptor who helped me to explore the potential of translating my sculptural works into new mediums and consider the way that new technologies might enhance my output, I think this freedom and opportunity for collaboration and experimentation will deeply benefit my practice.”
- Maitha Abdalla