Al-Sabah's work aims to convey visions of war, resistance and perseverance. He utilises a multi-media installation comprising of video, painting, sculpture and printed matter. The work is concerned with how the past is continually revised to meet the present, when the juvenile fantasy breaks down into the reality of adulthood. The work references from Arabic dubbed Japanese anime series, which were broadcast across the middle-east from 1980s onwards. Tackling themes of revolution, war and exile, the work projects political meaning onto these cartoons, which have been connected with a cross generational identity, shared by now adult Arabs. Drawing attention to an ignored point in media globalization: the influence, effects and agendas of Japanese anime on Arab popular culture. Displacement, nostalgia and personal mythology play a significant role within his work as it tries to capture a recollection that is not fixed, but rather an amalgamation of various narratives both false and true that have collapsed into each other causing the sensation of falsified memory and trauma. To achieve this he has been drawing on the collection of scenes of war and destruction from children’s animations and deconstructing the parallels between fantasy and reality, the hero and the everyday, the make-believe and fact.
Bassam developed a body of work that imagine an apocalyptic landscape as a site where reality itself is problematised as a condition which can no longer be counted on to continue. Through the framing of advancements of technologies and their increasing abilities for physical, material and spiritual annihilation the work will question where and how human identity is positioned in the virtual world. Where there once existed the whole and complete human subject, there is now only disjointed and incoherent simulations.
The sculptural work attempts to construct an abstract impression of longing for intimacy and familiarity. The work frames intimacy as an innate social need, and as such it can be socially regulated and therefore susceptible to political and legal regulation.
Within this commission Bassam produced a series of small 3D printed metal objects which collectively sculpt a constellation of conflicting links and histories. Pulling from popular culture, landscape and historical events, the metal sculptures are underpinned by an attempt to capture moments of intense encounters with the images and objects.
This work allowed Bassam to bridge a gap in his practice between CGI film work and sculptural practice, and allow the works to co-exist together in an amorphous space between the physical real and artificial virtual.
The Dock team was looking forward to working with a number of visual artists this year. As a result of the Covid 19 restrictions, there was a break in our gallery programme. This meant that the visual artists we were to work with were now without the opportunity to exhibit. The team here think long and hard about what and who we programme in the galleries, so decided to invite the artists who are part of the 2020 programme to submit an idea and approach to developing their work during this Covid-19 lockdown. The Dock framed this as a small commission, to offer the artists encouragement to keep making work and to continue their connection with us and with you the audience.
The commissioned work was mediated via our social media platforms and here on our website.