RABI HAMAMSAH (ABU DHABI)
A solo exhibition under the title ‘’Counting Fingers’’ starts on February 11 to April 28 at 421 Arts Campus in Abu Dhabi, showcasing a large-scale installation rooted in the instability and fragility of the human experience.
In this solo exhibition, Hana El Sagini, a participant in the 2024 cycle of the 421 Artistic Development Programme, showcases over 200 fantastical ceramic objects, culminating in surreal sculptures and structures that replicate and reimagine healthcare spaces, such as medical waiting rooms, hospital corridors, and doctors’ offices.
421 is an independent, anti-disciplinary platform dedicated to emerging artists and creative practitioners in the UAE and across the region.
The Inspiration and the Artist
In an interview with Aletihad, El Sagini noted that her artwork reflects human life at all levels by depicting certain situations or tiny details through ceramic objects.
“Any type of adversity brings a conflict, brings you first to imagine things that you haven’t imagined before, because this is the first time you’re going through this adversity. So, your brain works differently; your imagination works differently. And here it’s a very imaginative installation, but it’s also realistic,” the artist said.
“Through adversity, we keep on going through these internal conflicts, whether we’re lucky or we’re unlucky, whether we’re blessed or we’re not. But we always come out stronger, with a broader perspective on life, more courageous, because this is very personal work to me,’’ she added.
El Sagini highlighted that her work focuses on magnifying the small things in life, shedding light on the everyday objects we encounter that we might not give enough credit to.
“I’ve always done this in my work. I’ve always got my inspiration from the ordinary, and from everyday life, because I feel there is so much richness and so many layers. Always what we miss are the ordinary things, the routine. Sometimes this routine, this very simple routine, is so much of a blessing that you miss,” she said.
Gesturing to one of her pieces, she explained: “I always include the small things, like these power outlets. They are part of my favourite parts of the show.”
Being detail-oriented may be an understatement when describing El Sagini’s focus, both in work and in life.
“I always like to work on details. Like, even with everyone that I know, everyone that I love, I always try to notice the details: what they like, what they don’t like. How many spoons of sugar do they take in their tea? Because this is what makes it special.”
One of El Sagini’s more compelling magnifications of the small details of life comes in the form of an installation featuring a large slipper and a moth. “This is a very simple moment for us; we always take our slipper and kill insects. But, if you magnify it so big, it kind of becomes a murder scene, or it becomes weird to magnify this very simple moment that we do. When I imagine things like this, space is a very imaginative, creepy place,” she said.
The UAE Art Scene
El Sagini’s background is rooted in Egypt regarding the art scene, having also lived in Germany and Switzerland prior to moving to the UAE. However, the UAE is right place for artists to showcase their works, El Sagini said. adding: “When I moved here, I was so impressed with how fresh, how flourished the country is. It’s the happening place in the art world, it is in the UAE and in the Arab world in general, because there’s so much going on. It’s so cosmopolitan; there’s so many different nationalities here, so everyone brings a part and adds a touch.”
421 holds a special place for El Sagini, who described the platform as “a huge blessing”.
“I want to introduce myself to the art scene, and you always feel weird doing that if you go to a gallery and show them your work. So, 421 gives this magnificent opportunity to think out of the box,” she said.
Collaborating with local Emirati artists is an opportunity for synthesis and creativity, El Sagini added, stating: “Collaborations with Emirati artists are part of what makes art interesting and make creativity interesting, because together we think differently, so we create something that is not familiar to both of us and it’s a huge learning experience. It’s a huge addition to anyone’s career.’’