Moza Almatrooshi, Markings (video still from Act II, Sugar Rush), 2017. Two-acts video, variable durations. Commissioned by DUCTAC.
In my current practice, I deal with memory and decay, creating works which trap and translate moments into physical forms. Through my multi-disciplinary practice, I am striving to develop a system that will allow me to approach cartography, human movement in the desert – particularly the mountainous landscapes of the UAE – and methods of mark-making found in these areas.
At the intersection of these areas of investigation, I have found boundaries. I have begun to reflect on certain functions dictated by humans, the inherent transience of natural landscapes and the velocity of such transience. In 2016, this research culminated in ‘Markings’, a series using screen printing, textile dying, sculptural installation and photography to respond to and record the findings of this research.
Journeying repeatedly on a route from Melaiha to Kalba (Sharjah), I recorded eight locations where murals of various dimensions have been applied to the mountainsides. I found these elaborate displays of pride and belonging provocative – what is the rationale that goes into their creation? How have these irreversible acts come about?
These journeys were juxtaposed with research into Mohammed Kazem’s work. Two works, in particular, had certain resonances with this line of investigation: ‘Photographs with a Flag’ (1997) and ‘Scratches on Paper’ (2014). I have used geo-tagging and a “bystander stance” in my research and practice before, these positions are shown in ‘Photographs with a Flag’. The performative nature of the other artwork also engaged me. Both works had a repetitiveness to them, and I adopted this mode. I also revisited the time when Kazem was making these works, understanding them to be about certain anticipated changes that were taking place in the country in the 90s. I wanted to highlight that these changes have been effected, emphasising their permanence.
By documenting the mountain markings between Melaiha and Kalba, I have recorded acts that perform irreversibility. Recording these modified surfaces, altered by the human hand, I want to expose the impossibility and irrevocability of returning to the original – gesturing at the idea that, once change has been made, we can never recover the original.