Essma Elaine Imady

Installation Artist


Essma Imady

Personal Statement.

I live a politicized existence; Being Syrian in today’s climate necessitates it, and so I make political art. Political art at its best asks questions rather then provides answers, it whispers rather then screams. And it does not necessarily contain a specific call to action, rather it imprints upon the viewer in a manner that remains present within them after they have departed the piece. My strategies to achieve this include the upheaval of monolithic narratives through the asserting the personal experience in the face of the collective, disassembling the essentialist narratives through the interrogation of the historical archive and the constant suspicion of the transcendental claim for structure through questioning the system of referents that become associated with war and religion.


My understanding of political art and subsequent strategies arose from my deep connection with the art theorist Laura Marks, her book on intercultural cinema shaped the way I make art and understand it, her post structuralism stance resulted in my art being heavily post structuralist, especially in that it is a theory that fits well with political art which must challenge referents often taken for granted by people. I also often look to artists who communicate cultural specific work to a global audience, artists like Nermine Hamam an Egyptian based artist who makes art work that addresses very current political occurrences in her country that surpasses their specificity in order to achieve work that can stand the test of time and can be appreciated by a large range of audience. Other similar artists influence me including the Syrian painter Tammam Azzam with his large portraits of demolished homes and the Kurdish director Bahman Ghdobi in the complex way he asks questions about war and suffering in his films.

My work functions within a network of video artists who make political statements about their countries while living in the west, somewhere between artistic documentary work like Jayce Salloums Taleen a Junuub and completely experimental pieces like measures of distance by mona hatoum. My work is to a degree documentary in so far as much as it realizes on real political trauma, but it is also experimental in its choice of how to approach this trauma and how to visually represent it.


My medium of choice is Film, Film is a very visual experience, I challenge this through using limited imagery or a layered surface that does not allow the vision to penetrate to its depth in order to present questions about the limits of vision, and to trouble the relation between vision and knowledge. I am also interested in creating environments for my films through the introduction of concrete objects that speak to the themes and premises within my work. These objects are sometimes handmade objects and other times are objects infused with meaning through their proximity to the film.

I have also been exploring making visual images that explore the ideas I am digesting; using different mediums to communicate a single idea helps me understand my practice better. And encourages me edit my self and think more clearly about the issues at hand.


With my work my goal is to heighten the emotional experience of viewer, to communicate a completely foreign occurrence in a manner so that emotional investment occurs. That the viewer leaves my work not feeling that this is the plight of another, but a shared human experience. My practice hinges on my ability to do this; to translate emotions and experiences into a common tongue that can be understood in a space that is beyond the specificity of language and culture, residing within the collective human experience.

1 Comments on “About”

  1. Essma,
    I saw your powerful performance at your thesis show during the first weekend of the exhibition. I am still thinking about it. I would like to meet you to talk about it. Can we meet for coffee/tea next week?

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