We had the good fortune of connecting with Razan AlSarraf and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Razan, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always been connected to my drive to create and decided to pursue art-making as a career because, given the state of the world, it’s the only thing I’d enjoy doing. I see it as a more approachable and tangible tool for communication, to share ideas that otherwise could get censored or shut down by politics or academia, and it’s one of the few processes that aren’t as exploitative as other career paths.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Through painting, drawing, video, and sound art, my work attempts to reflect upon the interactions of people with land and landscape, whether socially, politically, topographically or culturally. I’m aiming to challenge notions of patriarchy and systems of power that are evident within the current and historical political landscape, infrastructure and the ongoing movements of colonization. Some of that comes out in the work but a lot of it is within the process of creating and the research that goes behind each project or series. I draw inspiration from geology, photography and social media, the history and violence of mapmaking, the desert, and ritualistic practices indigenous to my family and Kuwait. My practice is constantly evolving but my priorities have always been the same. In terms of challenges, the more prominent or obvious ones would be how hyper-capitalist our value system is in art, and of course racism, tokenism and the exoticism of brown fem people in “the West”. I’ve managed to get through these challenges through building genuine communities everywhere I go, whether at home in Kuwait or in New York and here in LA. Just having those spaces to feel comfortable, seen and supported is enough to keep us fueled for the fight ~
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve honestly haven’t had enough time to see a lot of LA to be able to show people around but the spots that have sentimental value to me are definitely the beaches and parks for nature-needs, Craft Contemporary, VPAM, ICALA for art (although there are hundreds more that everyone should visit), and honestly my friends’ backyards.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It would be impossible to include everyone that supported/ continues to support me on my journey of art-making and creation, but I’d have to start with my mother who encouraged me at a young age to take this path seriously. Then it’s a long list of mentors like John Jurayj, Peter Hristoff and Shirley Irons from my time at SVA, gloria galvez from my time at CalArts, and my amazing and incredibly talented cohort from both schools, Foremost, Anissa Orozco, Wendy Riagosa, Xavier Razberry, and Erin Choi. I can’t not mention my siblings Jafar and Rawan that have been the most patient (I’m a middle child, so..) and all my friends from Kuwait, New York and my new growing community in LA. The list could continue forever ~