It’s no coincidence that Sofiane Si Merabet – who uses his platform and persona of The Confused Arab to explore Arab heritage and identity – has unveiled his latest installation during Ramadan. Scanospection – a portmanteau of scanner and introspection – is on display at the Draft 1 exhibition curated by artists Ali Cha’aban and Khaled Zahid in Hafez Gallery, Jeddah.
“I see the Holy Month as a great opportunity to ponder, to think about myself and my life. I’m lucky to be able to do this and I’m aware that a lot of people aren’t able to explore this knowledge of themselves,” Sofiane tells Grazia.
Scanospection is a continuation of Hawa City Sofiane’s 2018 interactive installation at Sikka Art Fair – an aiport in the sky that highlighted the idea of multiple identities. “Travel is a big part of inspiration of my work,” he admits. “Not only physical travelling but also through time. I am trying to be a rational nostalgic and I guess travel nurtures that a lot. Travelling imposes another identity. You take a flight and as soon as you get out of the plane, everything can change. Whoever you are at home is not valid anymore.”
What inspired the work was how the judgement of others can inform your own cultural identity. “The ‘others’ are society, the people around us, and even us. What used to be the religious authorities or family has now extended to various faces or screens, I should say. With social media, we are now more willingly exposed to the gaze and judgement of others.”
The purpose of this project? “I would like visitors to become aware of their individuality. We all pretend we don’t care about what people think, but only a few people make the effort to step back and confront themselves.” And Sofiane’s message to Grazia readers? “Take time to check your own baggage. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.”
• Scanospection is part of the Draft 1 exhibition at Hafez Gallery in Jeddah until 30 May 2019
Photos: Courtesy of the artist