Yasmine Elmeleegy‘s artwork is a lot more unique than most. Her artwork is composed of installations. In a market that is still slowly gaining an understanding of art Yasmine talks of the challenges artist’s face and what they can do to keep themselves motivated and focussed.
What do you do consistently for time management?
I can’t really say I have any habits that I do every day, month or week. But what I can say is that I have a plan for the year. I set goals that I want to achieve each year, like if I want to do a solo-show or display my work in a specific location, or if I want to attend a particular residency or course abroad. These are all things that I apply for in the year before or the same year so that I’m able to attend and be a part of. So, if I had to say I did anything consistent it would be that I apply for courses and residencies abroad and sometimes they can be locally too. In 2016 I attended a program called “Mass Alexandria” for a year. This is one of the notable courses, that really changed my practice as an artist. These programs are generally very important for connections and networking. The second thing that I do is that I divide up my year amongst the courses and residencies 3-4 months in advance this allows me to really get my research done well. This is important to me because all of my projects don’t just involve me producing new artwork it involves research-based work. So the year is divided into parts: travel, residencies, research and museum visits in Cairo or outside of Cairo along with visit places in or out of Cairo to give me ideas. In parallel with that, I also leave time to work in the studio to try a new technique and a new material while dealing with technicians. Of course, I leave time to view other artist’s works that I love or have an interest in.
What is one resource you wish you knew about when you were starting out?
When I was a student and I was starting out my career little by little I felt like there was always a lack of books that specialize in contemporary artists in the world right now. Books that discuss what they do, what their statement is and what topics they talk about and the aesthetics of how their work is. The majority of books I found were really old dealing the history of art in the ’60s and ’50s and even before that. There was a book I was very eager to own and I managed to purchase towards the end of 2018 and I really wanted to have this book titled “Vitamin 3-D: New Perspectives in Sculpture and Installation”
What’s the best career advice anyone has ever given you?
A lot of the time I find myself feeling down. In times like these, I like to talk to artists that are older and have more experience and have been through a lot more than I have. The most important advice I got was about the fact that all of my projects are really personal and portray things that have to do with my family and my self and how I constantly have to make things that people can react to. So I used to feel like I wouldn’t reach my intended goal and that the competition would be too large in the market. So, they used to tell me just do what you love. “Just work and produce new artwork, don’t fear these feelings you have and take them out in the artwork”. This was the best advice I got, to just work and not think about everything else around me so that it doesn’t pressure me and stop me from working. It pushed me to work and keep going so that I’d reach my goal in the end.
What do you do to motivate yourself when you feel like giving up?
When I feel a little frustrated and defeated I like to talk to my friends, take peoples opinions, we motivate each other. I view other artists’ work that I’m interested, those that really achieved something real and those that are really important in the current market. I look at them and I feel like “alright, I can do something just like they did” and this motivates me to get back to work again.
Do you feel like Egypt is slowly gaining an understanding of what installations are and how?
Egypt is beginning to embrace it a little. Now, there’s a strong platform for designers and even fashion designers and jewelry designers and everything. But, I still feel like, with installations, the public isn’t able to understand them yet. There still isn’t a strong platform, there aren’t any grants, there aren’t places and preparations to display these works, there aren’t any curators or galleries that are focussed solely on installations. But, of course, there will be soon. In terms of installations and the market, the collectors that purchase artworks don’t buy installations since they are mostly sold to museums and institutions. As such, the whole market is abroad. And yet, as I said it’s improving in Egypt.
Photographer: Khaled Marzouk
MUA: Rana Barsoum