If you’ve experienced even a slight, fleeting interest in the burgeoning Middle Eastern art scene, chances are you’ve already come across Najd Al Taher. Her work is distinguished by the eerily paradoxical; sometimes with jarring balaclavas in peony-pink tones, and other times, abaya-clad ladies ironically lit by fluorescent LED lights. With an affinity for “mixing things up and challenging [herself]”, she’ll juxtapose preciously manicured nails against imagery of struggle and aggression and vibrant florals with urban cemented roadsides.
“What could this also be?” Najd Al Taher tells-slash-asks Grazia, “That’s the unrelenting question in the back of my head in any space. What inspires me most is the architecture of a space, the lines, and the concrete blocks.” Fitting, then, that the visual artist, videographer and stylist is found fully immersed in the varying dust-tinged concrete tones of the Kuwaiti metropolis, her home city, in her latest campaign with PUMA.
You heard us. While Najd has been deftly tight-roping the fine line between striking and unnerving for years, the two-time Crossway Foundation award-winning counterculturist has just partnered with athleisure virtuosos, PUMA, on a conceptual youth collective aptly named ‘Suede Guerrillas’.
“Suede represents PUMA and its classic sneaker, iconic in sub-cultures like hip hop, and ‘Guerrillas’ represents the grassroots nature of the Suede Guerrillas - young creatives authentically creating and curating to disrupt the norm,” says Najd.
As an organic, self-styled, boundary-stretching crew of creative youths from the Middle East, Najd tells us, “The Suede Guerrillas are a resounding message to the younger generation that everything is possible. Never change yourself or what you believe in. Never give up on your dreams.”
With this never-before-seen space for youth collaboration, especially at the hands of a sportswear behemoth such as PUMA, Najd comments, “It’s absolutely admirable of PUMA. There are so many young, striving creatives out there like myself who are giving it their all trying to make a difference, and what PUMA is doing is helping achieve that.” She continues, “Suede Guerrillas is a chance to inspire and be inspired, to grow as artists and creatives alike, and that, to me, is priceless."
With a satisfyingly geometric (and literally edgy) video teaser already under her belt, Najd tells us, “The content I’m creating for this campaign carries an important message; everything around us matters. It’s all about channelling power from the things around us that we might take for granted.” And the gleaming piece of wisdom, “If you really look, you can always create something out of nothing.”
Najd is currently working on not one, but two new series that “combine conceptual photography, installations and performance art” which are due to be released soon. Needless to say, we’re excited.
Photos: Supplied and Instagram