Shortlist 2021

Bassam Al-Sabah

Bassam Al-Sabah

Bassam Al-Sabah lives and works in Belfast and Dublin. He completed a BA in Visual Art Practice at IADT in 2016. His idiosyncratic work combines digital animation, painting, sculpture and textiles to create multimedia installations that convey intricate visions of war, resistance and perseverance.

He explores feelings of displacement, nostalgia and personal mythology in his work through references to Japanese animé cartoons that were dubbed into Arabic and broadcast throughout the Middle East from the 1980s on. His work projects political meaning onto these cartoons, which successive generations of Arabs have grown up with. It deals with feelings of collective nostalgia: an amalgamation of various narratives – both false and true – in which fact and fiction, historical trauma and queer possibility intersect against a background of revolution, war and exile. His digital and handmade works, which often incorporate intricate and laborious craft processes, are ultimately concerned with how the past is continually revised to meet the present, and the ways in which juvenile fantasy is broken down into the reality of adulthood. Current work imagines an apocalyptic landscape as a site where reality itself is problematised as a condition which can no longer be counted on to continue.

Bassam Al-Sabah applied for a Golden Fleece Award to support his practice as he works towards his first solo exhibition in the UK at Gasworks, London, which will then tour to the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhil in 2021. Funding will allow him to develop experimental new works across a variety of media, including rug-making, textiles, 3D printing, glass bead-work, ceramics and CGI filmmaking.