This Omani Artist Explores What it Means to Try to be Yourself

How do we express who we are as individuals?

By Sekka

Trying to be Myself by Omani artist Khadija Al Mammari. Swipe to see all photographs. All images courtesy of Khadija Al Mammari.

A combination of photography and installation, Trying to be Myself, is the latest work of Omani artist Khadija Al Mammari.

Currently in competition for Stal Gallery’s annual grand prize for young emerging artists in Oman, ‘Trying to be Myself’ depicts, as its title suggests, the struggle to stay true to one’s self in an environment that tries to change you. ‘Society puts us in a difficult position; we have to be a part of it, but how do we also express who we are as individuals in the midst of these influences and changes? And who am I in all of this?,’ reflects Al Mammari. ‘These are questions that I’ve personally asked myself before I created this work.’

Trying to be Myself is a combination of photography and installation. The sand was taken from Khadija Al Mammari’s family farm. Images courtesy of Khadija Al Mammari.

Al Mammari’s photographs depict the 26 year old sitting in her family’s farm dressed entirely in white and surrounded by fish. ‘I’m from a coastal city,’ says the Sohar native, ‘where fish play a big part of our lives (my dad fishes, we eat fish every day), and so I have a strong relationship with fish. Thus, I used fish as a symbol for my environment and society.’ She continues, ‘Through my work, I wanted to relay the juxtaposition of the fish not being in their environment, like me.’ The pile of sand that forms part of the installation was taken from Al Mammari’s family farm to maintain the connection to the photographs.

Though Al Mammari, who has an undergraduate degree in art education from Sultan Qaboos University and is currently pursuing a master’s in art, has created installations before, she considers Trying to be Myself her first ‘strong attempt’ in the area. ‘My previous installations were experimental attempts that I was perhaps not successful in,’ she explains. ‘However, they were all experiences that eventually helped me create this piece.’

Behind the scenes of the making of Trying to be Myself by Khadija Al Mammari. Video courtesy of Khadija Al Mammari.

In a video that she has shared on her social media channels, Al Mammari depicts the process of creating this work. Traditional music that is associated with the sea and the bygone days of pearl diving in the Gulf plays in the video’s background. ‘Through the video, I wanted to artistically capture the behind the scenes work,’ she says.

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