Q&A with Emirati artist Hussain AlMoosawi
Sarah Bochicchio: To begin, could you tell me about the works you share with Museum in the Sky?
Hussain Al Moosawi: I have been approached by the Khaleeji Art Museum to display some of my works, and what is displayed there is what I would consider my life project, which is to document the architectural facades around the United Arab Emirates. The goal is to eventually come up with a comprehensive typology and classification system that would help us understand the architectural development since the country was formed in 1971. It took me a bit of time as a photographer to figure out what would be my contribution to humanity, but that’s how I feel.
SB: How did you start this project?
HA: I went overseas to Brisbane, Australia to undertake my design degree. And after that, I did my master’s in Melbourne. Melbourne is a dynamic place that kind of overwhelmed me, and I was like, ‘Okay, I have to document the space somehow.’ So my understanding of research as a designer and documentation as a photographer came together in a series of projects.
When I returned to the United Arab Emirates in 2013, I was looking for the same visual vocabulary as in Melbourne, but I couldn’t find it. So I spent two to three years looking for what is really unique in our country. For me, the question is: what is the vernacular here in the UAE? So my first projects were to establish my understanding of our urban landscape.
I came to this idea that symmetry was the common element that inhabits all forms of architecture. Over time, I started to get interested in asymmetry and low-rise and mid-rise buildings. That’s why it’s a lifelong project, because I’m sure I won’t be able to finish all these subs, that’s when my head overheats.