aN INTERVIEW WITH SATHAR AL KARAN
Anca Mihaela Bruma: You have curated and organized many types of events within UAE market. Please tell us more about this particular role as a curator, as well organizer.
Sathar Al Karan: It is a challenging process to be involved either as an organizer or curator for different events, and being open to creating dialogues is the fundamental key for any success, rather than just be a keeper of talents and exposing them. I love art in different forms, and even organizing various events and promoting talents it is a form of ART for me. I am not interested in the concepts but as how poetic, evocative and intuitive art can be, how it can resonate with all of us. The most important thing for me is to come with new approaches and options and keep looking for new opportunities, trying to avoid sometimes being overly conventional and living room for freedom of expression and intuition.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: How do you differentiate your approach from the rest? In other words, what do you feel makes your “work” unique and truly your own? Sathar Al Karan: My way of work I shall “label” it as adventurous type and experimental. Since my childhood I had a creative soul. My “efforts” are like testimonies of my approaches and how I bridge between ART, Artists and Society. In a fast pacing society, many traditional approaches to businesses have somehow “devalued”, therefore to differentiate yourself, it is imperative to keep a wide open eye and practice flexibility and understanding all the time. You have been working with various artists within UAE market, local talents as well expatriates, exploring a wide array of mediums in terms of creativity as well collaborating with artists from various art fields. How do you share this span of responsibilities?
Sathar Al Karan: In some projects I am the “custodian” of a particular practice, style or method in the creative process. However, it is imperative to be able to work in cooperation with everyone else, sometimes even jointly authored and meeting at the intersection where our “curiosities”, skills and desires are triangulated. In my projects I am very interested in “the sensation of thinking”, a space where everyone, the organizers, artists and even the audience is given a “space” to develop thinking and feeling, opening doors for conversations, making possible for all of us involved, to embrace the full spectrum of possibilities, latent in the work process. The final outcome is important indeed, but how to transform it into work of art, which “travels” the length and breadh of its own possibilities, is more crucial! The success is not only about that moment, but how impactful is that event over a longer span of time, how important and challenging was for the audience, what potential opens for the future and how can you bridge various temporal rhythms of different generations, as well nations. Everything is a dynamic process and each entrepreneurial activity shall be like an index of transformation. I personally enjoy the plurality of my roles, sometimes organizer of staged events, or business consultant, curator of arts, and even photographer and poet, it feels like “agent provocateur”. All these aspects of mine brought me a broader and in depth understanding as well an unique “empathy” towards art in all its forms of manifestation, from mundane to intellectual, from invisible to invisible aspects affecting how the audience experience art.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: How would you describe your approach to each project? Any project.
Sathar Al Karan: There are some steps indeed involved, however they are not linear. What is critical in making the right choices and decisions is to stay open to challenges in such a fast changing market like UAE, being open to intuition, ideas and emotions. It is an organic process how you can transform all of these opportunities into something “fluid”.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: How do you organize yourself during the developing process of a staged event?
Sathar Al Karan: It is important to know the aim of your intended event, either it is an exibition or a staged event, let your creative intuition lead you and involve your partners in this exploration, while imaging various opportunities and being opened to new venture ideas. Listen to everyone involved in the process, listen to the audience itself, be fully involved in the process and trust it.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: You mentioned of the plurality of your roles and how versatile are your skills, being a business consultant, curator of art, photographer and poet during your spare time and an IT specialist. Do you feel that you are more one than another?
Sathar Al Karan: All my “roles” belong together, are part of who I am. All these “roles” support me in my own experimentation and somehow differentiate me from the sheer density of the competitors. These helped me to create different context in such way to be meaningful and accessible to the public, a groundbreaking approach with new ways to be displayed. My style of working is multi layered, so the result shall exists temporally, regionally, artistically etc.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: What is the process behind clarity of your vision?
Sathar Al Karan: I have a clear position of how I see things, I am aware of many methodologies, yet not clinging strongly to one, but leaving “space” for new approach, being flexible when the parameters change. Commitment to your vision is imperative yet remaining flexible to others. In everything I do I try to adapt to the local context and strive for the people to come and feel something, make sure they can have an emotional and intellectual connections.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: You already made a name for yourself as a supporter and curator of different artists. Is your approach a traditional one when it comes to promote the artists?
Sathar Al Karan: The curating process has been changing over the years, and UAE is a very challenging market, very different than European or American market. The expectations are different, therefore the approach and the results shall be different. Curating itself is no more limited to just displays inside art exhibitions, but also producing publications, create new platforms for discussions or even festivals. Nowadays, there is a blurred distinction between the individual artwork and exhibition format. Curating such artists is my way to share my own passion and creative universe with the audience. Parameters like location, architecture, profile of the place are important in all these displays and producing events inside these places are part of the cultural advertisement by raising awareness, stimulating new critical or even analytical paths, enhancing the value of the existing heritage. Nowadays, exhibitions became more “transversal”, a mix of various disciplines (like graphics, sculptures, designs, paintings) offering a more enhanced cultural and artistic experience to the public. Each projects starts with a concept and uncovering this “mystery" and sharing it to the public.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: What is the most challenging part about your work?
Sathar Al Karan: To remain creative! Anything I do, either is a business consultancy project, a website, a staged event, an exhibition etc., it shall be moved at the level of artwork itself, to infuse a special spirit into it.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: Were you always interested in ART?
Sathar Al Karan: Since I was a child I had this predisposition towards creative expressions, I was sculpturing at that time, contributing and volunteering at various art festivals back in India and of course sometimes expressing myself through written word, which is poetry.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: How do you see the art market and the art word changing? And how do you see art emerging from the tech space?
Sathar Al Karan: For the past decades the development of technology impacted tremendously on the art, leading to appearance of new markets, new styles, new artistic expressions. Internet and social media also impacted on this development, nowadays many artists promote themselves with the means of online media. The new technologies have been presenting a wellspring of possibilities and options.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: What is your life like?
Sathar Al Karan: Pretty challenging and provoking. I am married with three children and I have been living in Dubai / UAE for more than two decades. Here it is a place full of challenging opportunities, so during this time I have to be really open to all these fast changes. I have found my own “voice” here, developing a broad spectrum of skills. I have found here my home and great support.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations” (Charles R. Swindoll). Have you faced such “impossible situations” when you located yourself in Dubai / UAE? And if yes, how did you overcome such challenges and convert the experiences into positive results in your own life, personal and professional?
Sathar Al Karan: When I arrived in UAE of course it was not easy, I faced huge challenges and it took me some time to adjust. In the face of controversy I have received major support and empathy from the people residing here. I was young when I arrived here, of course full of ideals but experiences made me understand that each of our own life is like a journey, exactly like a metamorphosis, and each of us need to find the purpose and meaning of our own life. Everyone has his/her own dream, pain to experience, undesirable changes we need to go through. However, today my heart is at peace because I do what I enjoy doing it, always staying true to my heart calling.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: What did you learn from these challenging experiences while trying to make a living here?
Sathar Al Karan: In the time when I was plunged in the deep abyss of hopelessness, I had learnt that what seem to be an impossible situation, in fact it is a great opportunity for me to grow, as a person, as family man, as specialist and of course as artist as well.
Anca Mihaela Bruma: Not everyone has the wisdom of transforming the “bad” into “good” and learn from such life exposures. What would be your advice for the ones who face such challenges?
Sathar Al Karan: Trust Life! Trust yourself! Find your high calling and stay true to that calling, no matter what. Transform each life event into a blessing, something you can learn from, to evolve more! And share your own learnings and experiences with others! So they can be as well supported and transformed! Our inner reservoir is endless, be generous with others as well, cultivating empathy!
Anca Mihaela Bruma: We are thanking you for giving the chance to interview you and give a “slice” of your own life. What will be your last piece of advice to the readers and everyone as well?
Sathar Al Karan: Believe in yourself! Even if the whole world seems not to believe in you! Because if you do not, who will? Hold on tight what you believe in! Difficulties and challenges are inherently present during out span of life. When we chase our own dream we need to be prepared to overcome all types of challenges (including failures and disappointments). But… are they not part of our life? Making it truly meaningful!