Farah Salem is a visual artist from Kuwait. She began as a self-taught photographer at age 15 by exploring how to work with light and shadow to create images.
Years later graduated with a BA of Arts in Visual Communications. Currently, she is attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a Master of Art in Art Therapy and Counselling. Farah has explored many forms of photography, from digital, film to instant. Among the genres she has nurtured is street photography, especially in creating environmental and urban portraits, portraying raw stories of each human. She has also worked with conceptual photography, making visual statements about various topics. As well as she explores a variety of methods to go beyond the frame, whether by means of installation or printing methods. She has also dived into different fields of art, from oil painting to mixed media, as well as performance art. As an artist she is interested in working with various social topics, from cultural, existential, social, humanitarian to women topics. The underlining motif in her work is to share raw human emotion.
Tell us about yourself?
A curious woman, full of passion, and drive to explore new possibilities through the creative process.
And in more detail…
I’ve gained much knowledge on photography by working with established photographers, taking courses and attending workshops, including a course at the New York Film Academy. As well as attending artist residencies, from Per|Form at Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait, to Crossway Foundation UK’s Journey to Turkey. I have won some awards for my artwork, most recently I’m the Laureate winner of the International Women Photographers Award 2017. My book titled In-between the Skyline of Kuwait City has been published by Kuwaits National Council of Culture, Art and Letters. I’m also an exhibiting artist, where I had my first solo exhibition and book launch in Contemporary Art Platform Kuwait. I have also exhibited in JAAM Gallery in Dubai, Parfitt Gallery in London, Ka Fotoğraf Atölyesi in Ankara Turkey, E-Werk in Friegburg Germany, Centro Cultural CEEE Eirico Verissimo in Porto Alegre Brazil, Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, and most recently exhibiting with emerging and established artists representing the Middle East in the Bolivia Biennale in Centro Cultural De Santa Cruz. As well as the Laureate winner of the International Women Photographers Award 2017.
What inspired In Between the Skyline of Kuwait City?
I couldn’t stand sitting in a concrete box for too long, nor could I afford to travel while being an undergraduate student. I decided to be a stranger in my own city, and explore the back streets that were yet to be discovered. As well as empowering myself and other women to take journeys on their own in spaces they have often been “warned” from, finding strength and trust within one self. Finally, it was a dynamic meditative experience.
Tell us more about the book In Between the Skyline of Kuwait City, 2010-2015
A photo book made up of a collection of photos shot over a five-year journey spent exploring the multicultural streets of Kuwait City as a meditative process. This book offers an experience similar to a visual walking tour around the streets that lie between the skyline of the city, full of splendor and hidden beauties of urban life.
Along with the book launch is an exhibition of the images in the book. As well as an interactive video installation that expresses the experience of walking through the city, with a soundtrack of recordings from the city.
What influenced you to start being creative / making art?
I used art making since I was a child as a form of self-expression, visual note taking through observation and documentation, and as I grew, it became a form of pushing boundaries and question the self, society, and culture.
What message do you want to give through your art work?
Capturing raw human emotions, raising consciousness through exploring new perspectives on matters, building community and understanding amongst members of society.
What themes do you often explore in your artwork and why?
I’m interested in working on various social topics, from cultural, existential, social, humanitarian topics.
Why do you use such materials in your work?
Book making is something I have always been interested in and I continue to explore it. Documenting environmental portraits allow us to understand the relationship between an individual and the architectural landscapes they exist in. Preserving the individual’s experience at a moment in space and time.
What is your favourite art work that you have created in the past and why?
My project Cornered. It is my favourite because it marked a transitional point of my life where I began merging both my performative and photo practices together, as well as the intersectionality’s of topics that I work with, from social, cultural, existensial, to women topics.
Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My notebook, and obviously my camera.
What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
We are so lucky to be part of an age where there is a limitless amount of possibilities and materials to develop our concepts.
What advice would you give to a fellow creative?
You don’t become more creative you are born with it, you just have to access it within yourself, and let it flow. Make space within yourself and around you, so that it can flow.
Who are your favourite Arab artists at the moment?
Tarek AlGhoussein taught me the most valuable lessons, and his work blows my mind in many ways.