Here, There, Nowhere
Here, There, Nowhere presents works by artists Fazail Lutfi, Mo Manal and Monash University PhD Candidate Kareen Adam - the first time a group of Maldivian artists are exhibiting works in Melbourne.
This exhibition evolved out of conversations Kareen was having with her Maldivian peers about her series of coral drawings and paintings, which began during 2013 while she was living in Maldives. The conversations reflected on contextualising the idea of home and connection to place, especially as our physical and emotional distance oscillated and shifted from our place of birth. In one conversation with Topy Saeed (a creative director and artist also from the Maldives) we found a connection between Fazail, Kareen and Manal’s works.
Each of us grew up in Male’ the capital of Maldives, and have lived away or are living away from our city. We all still hold strong connections and roots to our place of birth. In our lifetime, the once idyllic island village has transformed into a hectic city, shaped by the advances and troubles of rapid development and socio-political changes.
Our works contemplate the current state of our city Male’ against our memories, the transformations it is going through, and how we are connected to that place now. However, each of us are processing these experiences from different perspectives: while Kareen’s work delves into nostalgia and the past, Manal’s work responds to the present condition of living in the dense city, and Fazail’s work explores the location of his body and self in relation to our place of origin.
While we each have creative practices in different artistic mediums, collectively we present a visual discourse on (dis)connection to place, impermanence, fluidity, nostalgia and a yearning for stability and security. Juxtaposed and placed within shared boundaries of a gallery space - far away from where we come from - the stories, ideas and representations point to a space that one can never return to. Together we are Here, There, and Nowhere simultaneously.
Kareen Adams is a Maldivian-Australian visual artist based in Narrm/Melbourne. The experience of living between multiple cultures, particularly negotiating between the East and the West informs her practice. Ideas about transitions, cultural identity, and the juncture between 'local' and the 'visitor' emerge in Kareen’s work, which she explores using various mediums including printmaking, drawing, painting, digital media and video. Her current projects are focused on critiquing the white gaze on representations of tourist island destinations and its peoples.
Kareen has a background in psychology and has been building up a creative practice since 2009. She is committed to developing platforms for the Maldivian creative community through cross-country exchanges, education and advocacy. After completing a Master of Creative Industries at Melbourne Polytechnic (2020) Kareen is now a PhD candidate in Visual Arts at Womenjika Djeembana, Monash Art Design and Architecture Faculty.
Fazail Lutfi born in the Maldives, is an interdisciplinary artist. In his installations he usually uses the medium of video and sculptural elements to create a space where the affect, the experience and the sensations the work generates is central.
In 2001, Fazail received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dramatic Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He went on to do his Master of Fine Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Visual Arts and Media Production & Studies) from the University of Regina (Canada) in 2007. For him, an important element of his process and his work is its unspecificity, and ambivalence, opening spaces for interpretation and ambiguity.
Fazail currently resides in Melbourne, Australia and continues to explore themes around his own identities, memories, place and imagination.
Mo Manal is a self-taught experimental electronic musician, DJ and artist from the Maldives. Manal’s practice is fueled by a passion for creative expression rooted in the spirit of the DIY and collaboration of grassroots communities.
Manal has been part of many pioneering events contributing to encouraging and promoting the culture of sonic and visual artistry in the Maldivian community.
He was heavily involved in the Underground Movement (2011-2014), deemed illegal and eventually shut down by the government of Maldives, after which was invited to the Border Movement - a project initiate by the Goethe-Institut, where he made two residencies, one in Berlin and one Karachi. (2014, 2015)
After returning he invested what he learned into Katti Hivvaru Festival (2014-2016), an urban youth festival to celebrate culture, art, music, nature, and entrepreneurship of young Maldivians. He later went on to develop Sine Valley (2016 -2017) with an alumni from the Border Movement in Nepal, a small residency program/festival celebrating experimental sounds and visual arts.
In recent years Manal’s practice has shifted to reinterpreting the sum of what it means to be an islander; integrating new technologies with indigenous values and esoteric practices that are fading into the facades of globalisation. Manal lives in Male’, Maldives where he works as a DJ for resorts, and is busy experimenting in digital collage and body adornment, while curating music collaborations with other artists in Maldives (@Ethos.mv, @project:isle)