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DIFC
Dubai, Dubai
United Arab Emirates

Art Week brings together Dubai’s thriving creative industries into a week-long celebration of arts and culture.

Fathima Mohiuddin & Paul Bruwer

 

Fathima Mohiuddin & Paul Bruwer

Artists, The Domino

 
I’m interested in the little pockets of magic in public space, in unexpected interaction, in how street art can create places out of spaces and shake up a monotonous, routine day.
— Fathima

How would you describe the street art scene in the MENASA region?

Paul Bruwer (PB): The street art scene in the region is still extremely young, and has only gained real traction as a serious art-form in the past 3 years or so. There is still a huge need for local artists to be seen and their skills utilised rather than bringing in artists from abroad. That being said, given how new the art form is, it will take time for local talents to hone their skills and develop individual styles that are recognised.

Fathima Mohiuddin (FM): Certain places have taken to it more organically than others. Given Dubai’s commercial character, street art here isn’t as community-oriented as it could be. It is, to some extent, very meticulously and appropriately placed. On the other hand, I’ve painted two walls in Jordan where the culture seems to have blended in with the vibe of the people and the scene more naturally.

 

Why have you chosen to produce art in public spaces rather than have it displayed in a gallery?

FB: I used to work in galleries. I, and this is purely personal, always found art in galleries isolated and exclusive. Don’t get me wrong, there is work that is intended to be intimate and contained in that way. But for me I think as a person, and with my background in sociology, I’m more interested in the little pockets of magic in public space, in unexpected interaction, in how street art can create places out of spaces and shake up a monotonous, routine day. How it resonates and provokes everyone, not just those who consciously walk into galleries. Art is more than an object that we buy and display. It’s a thing we do and force in the world that has a power we may not necessarily be able to explain, but can’t deny either. It’s romance and with the world growing more impersonal and robotic and chaotic, we all need a little romance.

PB: A gallery can sometimes be a very niche viewing platform. Our goal was to reach the masses, the people that are on their way to work, travelling through the hotel, visiting the city. Dubai is a fantastic platform for street art given all the walls around the city, it made sense to us to create our works outdoors.

Paul Bruwer.jpg

Typically, street art projects tend to happen overnight and out of the public eye. Why do you chose to work out in the open during the day?

PB: Our work is always aimed at being shared with the community. We don’t just want artwork to appear on the wall, we want the public to interact with us and see work process over a few days. With street art being still relatively young in Dubai, it’s important that people see and experience the process, see us as artists at work, speak to us. The human connection to the people that view our work every day is very important.

FM: In my experience painting in public is totally normal, it’s so important to interact with people! People love to watch work go up. They like to ask questions and be inspired. Street art isn’t just about beautifying a space, it’s about dialogue and intrigue. Even if they don’t like what you’re painting. That’s what’s beautiful about it. People are also really curious about the process. How something can go from a sketch on an A4 sheet to a two-storey wall.  I’ve had some of the best experiences painting in other cities where I’ve come down from a lift and had a conversation with a stranger.  I think a big part of painting a wall is the story of the week you spend painting it.