Most striking however, is her work’s departure from a preoccupation with media representations of women who join terrorist organisations, which first developed during her residency at the Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht from 2014-2015. ‘I've understood something quite fundamental in the past couple of years,’ says the artist, reflecting on the most recent of this series of work, the dramatic Echo Chamber that occupied the Het Oog alcove of the Van Abbemuseum for most of 2017. The theme of women as targets, victims and resistors that had coursed in the metatext of the terror-related work, thus now becomes the topic, the prevailing social and institutional pattern itself. A change in her patterns then also emerges.
Often the amount of research that goes into the forms and colours is not immediately accessible to the audience. Sometimes gallery information will reveal that the colours used in Echo Chamber are taken by the media coverage of a 33-year-old British woman who supposedly joined Al-Shabaab. The pink used in Shoot the Women First is the colour used to demarcate brothels doorways in Athens – the work is inspired by an incident in 2012 when police arrests of HIV-positive drug users stigmatised sex workers. Polychromy Plays (The Showroom, London, 2018), is a colour palette of healing resulting from six months of workshops, speaking to patients and workers in the paediatric department at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London. Only in speaking to the artist, is the depth of the research methodology entirely revealed.
Care is also what makes it so important for Khan-Dossos that her work goes beyond meditation to mediation through collaborative projects. Not only does she open up her working methodology and the importance of quietude by inviting people to participate in the installation of her murals, but she also instigates cross-community collaborations that produce co-authored works, such as The School of Earthquake Diplomacy, which took place in both Athens and Istanbul. The quilt for Shoot the Women First involves the Greek Transgender Support Association in Athens, which through workshops made watercolours that Khan-Dossos developed into a quilt design, and was printed and then embroidered by MIA-H in Hasselt.
Navine G. Khan-Dossos – Shoot the Women First, Z33, Hasselt, Belgium, until 26 May, z33.be
This article originally appeared in DAMNº71.
DAMNº71: A Woman’s Work / Saskia de Brauw & Vincent van de Wijngaard / Wendy Andreu / Broken Nature / Cyber-urbanism / ecoLogicStudio / Geo-Design / Alexandre Humbert / Navine G. Khan-Dossos / Leonard Koren / Movie interiors / Radical Cut-Up / Miko Revereza / Klaas Rommelaere / SAVVY Contemporary / Shapereader / Thonik / Andrew Waugh