Owais Husain: House of Cards

BY HARPER'S BAZAAR ARABIA / Oct 6 2016 / 15:50 PM

Artist Owais Husain speaks with Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia on his collaborative school workshops across the world titled, ‘House of Cards’, in particular, ‘The Speaking Tree’ with the students at Dubai College

Owais Husain: House of Cards
Owais Husain talks with students at Dubai College about his works. Photography courtesy of the artist
Owais Husain: House of Cards
Owais Husain talks with students at Dubai College about his works. Photography courtesy of the artist

Harper’s Bazaar Art: Why do you believe it is important to work with children and young adults?

Owais Husain: Moving forward, we are all aware that a certain amount of history gets left behind outside of memory. Over time priorities of historical points keep shifting and you begin to seek a channel, a kind of time portal to push these points through.These workshops for me are opportunities to create a sort of bridge between the past and tomorrow, with its foundation precariously placed upon the children and young adults. By sharing certain curated portions of history and weaving a story of relevance to the present, I explore to suggest fresh perspective on the present and thereby extend possibilities in their process of image making.

HBA: What feedback have you had from the experience? 

OH: In one of my primary school art projects where we confronted the idea of myth-making and alternative thought in image conception, a seven-year-old boy made the comment “in art you can do no wrong”. Interestingly, the statement is a reflection on the structured ecosystem of educational environment today. It also reminds me of my boyhood aspirations to run free and experience surprise in the outcome of an image made outside of formalism.

While working with young adults on concepts of redrafting identity through analysis, process and synthesis, there was a tremendous focus on introspection. There came a situation once where I had to steer the workshop from turning into a serious self-therapy session.

However, in most workshops there is an air of ease, which only enhances the process of collaboration.

HBA: How do the workshops influence your artistic practice?

OH: There is conditioning at every moment of life. However it's roots are more malleable the younger the children. Working with them allows an invaluable lens into the selection and curation of iconography in that stage of growth. More important to me what this also offers is an insight into certain elements of a lexicon that would grow to constitute the visual language of tomorrow.

Owais Husain’s upcoming projects include, You Are Forever, 2016 (22-23 October 2016), exhibited at the seventh edition of Mumbai’s public art festival [en]counters (8 October - 28 November 2016). Owais will also be exhibiting works on paper with Gazelli Art House at Abu Dhabi Art (16-19 November 2016).