Official announcement:

I will be exhibiting with other artists at the Flying House in Dubai, in a show honoring the legacy of Hassan Sharif who passed away last year. He had a very specific and lasting impression on me, one that I have applied to my own students.

Joe Girandola, along with Cristiana De Marchi and Mohammed Kazem came up with the idea:

An exhibition of artworks created on 25cm x 25cm card stock to be exhibited at The Flying House in the UAE from March 1-March 31, 2017. The exhibition will feature works of artists/writers/poets from around the globe who have been mentored by or have been influenced by Emirati Hassan Sharif. At the close of the exhibition, the collection of artworks will be sealed and buried in the UAE desert site of Sharif’s first walking experiment. An archive of images will be created and be installed at the Flying House. In twenty years the “object” will be unearthed and exhibited again with other creatives invited by the original group presented in this exhibition to exhibit new works.

In preparation I combed through images I took during my first trip to the UAE, where my work hung with other artists including Hassan at the Emirates Fine Art Society’s 29th Annual Exhibition. Searching for a reference to work from I found myself combing through memories using Hassan’s influence as a filter.

This filtration left one image, which I pulled into Photoshop as is my usual starting point. Because of the size limitation (25cm x 25cm), the image was immediately cropped. To fit in the square, a compositionally difficult size, it was moved, enlarged, adjusted, and edited.

This process of editing the image led me to think about how my memory of the event captured in the picture evolved over time, and how the act of remembering was influencing my formal choices. I was emphasizing things that seemed more evident in the memory and cropping other less important things. So not only was creating a formally satisfying composition my goal, I now wanted to make my memory a primary component of the editing process.

Hassan’s hands clasped, his mid-thought expression, and the can of Heineken on his desk dominate the memory. I don’t remember what he was saying nor the questions coming from the 15 or so other people there, nor even the people themselves.

Once done composing the image I had to impose it on the required surface. I  experimented with Gouache as my default is to paint. However, remembering Hassan redirected my choice. His biggest influence on my practice is to only do what is necessitated by the concept and to not be bound by traditional art practices; painting, drawing, drafting. I had an image that needed to be transferred. So I simply transferred it using a color laser print and gel medium.

Transferring the image led to more editing. Flaws in this process only added to the sense that the memory was filtered, malleable, and plastic. Areas that weren’t transferred led to a second image transfer Aspects became vague, sharp, completely missing, some purposefully and others accidental. I further edited using collage, taking an earlier photo-transfer experiment and pasting bits of it in areas that needed editing, basing my choices on formal needs as well as memory.

My earlier Gouache experiments were also added. They contained marks I had made. Our memories contain as much of ourselves as they do the subject, a feeling of our bodies in space in relationship to the subject. Plus, when contemplating the passing of a person, it is often with oneself in mind, how we exist in a new context that now lacks that person. The marks are additional edits, the means to include me in the memory, as well as considering myself in this new context.

Our memory is always edited and filtered via our emotions at the inception of memory, changed at the times of remembering, evolve over the passage of time and even be altered by what we choose to remember. The image, voice, and influence of Hassan Sharif will thankfully continue to be a part of my memory as I continue to make art.

Thank you, Hassan.

Edited, 2017. Collage, Photo-transfer print, paper, Gouache.